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US stocks drop ahead of busy week for earnings, Fed meeting; health care stocks fall sharply

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NEW YORK — U.S. stocks slumped on Monday as investors looked ahead to a flood of earnings reports this week.

Stocks appeared headed for new highs in the morning, but drifted lower in afternoon as health care companies dropped sharply. Mylan, a maker of generic drugs, slumped nearly 6 percent. It was a downbeat note after strong gains last week, capped by a new record in the Nasdaq composite, 15 years after its dot-com era peak.

 With little news moving markets, "I think we have some profit-taking here," said chief stock strategist Phil Orlando, of Federated Investors as stocks started dropping in the afternoon.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 42.17 points, or 0.2 percent, to close at 18,037.97. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 8.77 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,108.92. The Nasdaq fell 31.84 points, or 0.6 percent, to 5,060.25.

The drops were broad, with seven of the 10 industry sectors of the S&P 500 down for day. Health care stocks fell the most, down 1.8 percent

One bright spot was Dow index component DuPont, which rose 4.6 percent after activist investor Nelson Peltz gained a powerful backer Monday in his effort to split the chemical maker into two companies. Proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services recommended shareholders give the billionaire investor two seats on DuPont's board.

More than 150 companies in the S&P 500 report quarterly results this week, including Ford, Visa, Pfizer and Exxon Mobil. Investors are anxious because falling oil prices and a strengthening dollar have hammered first-quarter results at some companies. Per-share earnings for the S&P 500 are expected to fall 0.8 percent from a year earlier, according to S&P Capital IQ, a provider of financial data.

That would be the first drop since 2009, though it is better than the 2.4 percent drop expected two months ago.

Investors are also worried about slumping revenue at many companies, thanks in part to the stronger dollar. That makes money generated overseas by big companies here worth less when translated back into the U.S currency. Companies can compensate by cutting costs, but it's not easy given all the cutting already.

"We're at the point in the cycle where revenue needs to pick up, but it's not," said David Lebovitz, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management. He added, "I'm not so sure companies can slash their way to earnings; they're running pretty leanly."

Investors are also looking ahead to Wednesday when the Federal Reserve ends a two-day meeting where policymakers will discuss when to raise a key interest rate that has been held near zero for 6 ½ years. After its March meeting, the Fed opened the door to a rate increase this year by no longer saying it would be "patient" in starting to raise its benchmark rate.

The government also releases its estimate of economic growth in the January-March quarter. Gross domestic product is expected to have risen 1 percent, down from 2.2 percent in the previous quarter.

PHOTO: Trader John O'Hara wears an Ironman mask as he works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, April 27, 2015, in New York. Actors Jeremy Renner and Robert Downey Jr. rang the NYSE opening bell Monday with representatives from Marvel Entertainment. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
Trader John O'Hara wears an Ironman mask as he works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, April 27, 2015, in New York. Actors Jeremy Renner and Robert Downey Jr. rang the NYSE opening bell Monday with representatives from Marvel Entertainment. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

The rise in U.S. stocks in the morning followed gains in European markets that built toward their close. Investors were encouraged by news that Greece had reshuffled its team that is negotiating a bailout, raising hopes that it will be able to avert a default.

Some see the shake-up as a way to reduce the clout of Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who has been criticized for failing to put together a list of changes that the country's European creditors want before they release new loans. Greece's government is expected to run out of money to pay its bills in another few weeks.

The Greek stock index rallied on the news, closing up 4.4 percent. France's CAC-40 index rose 1.3 percent and Germany's DAX jumped 1.9 percent.

In other stocks making moves, Applied Materials fell $1.83, or 8 percent, to $19.97 after calling off its $9.4 billion acquisition of Tokyo Electron Ltd. The two big semiconductor industry suppliers said that they were told by the Department of Justice that there were antitrust concerns.

Mylan dropped after the drugmaker rejected a $40 billion buyout offer from Teva Pharmaceuticals, a cash-and-stock deal that Mylan says undervalues it. The stock fell $4.34 to $71.72.

After the market closed, Apple reported another blow-out quarter for earnings, powered by iPhone sales. The stock rose $1.63, or 1.2 percent, to $134.29 in after-hours trading, adding to gains at before the close. The stock is the biggest component to the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes.

The dollar rose to 119.09 yen from 118.95 yen. The euro rose slightly to $1.0885 from $1.0883.

U.S. government bond prices fell, pushing up the yield on the 10-year Treasury to 1.93 percent.

The price of oil fell slightly Monday as concerns about hefty supplies offset signs that oil companies are cutting production. U.S. oil slipped 16 cents to $56.99 per barrel. Brent crude, a benchmark for many international oils used by U.S. refineries to make gasoline, fell 45 cents to $64.83 in London.

In other energy futures trading:

— Wholesale gasoline was flat at $2.01 per gallon

— Heating oil slipped 0.7 cent to $1.921 per gallon

— Natural gas fell 4.1 cents to $2.49 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In metals trading, gold rose $28.20 to $1,203 an ounce, silver rose 76 cents to $16.39 an ounce and copper rose 2 cents to $2.77 a pound.

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PHOTO: A trader wearing an Avengers t-shirt works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, April 27, 2015, in New York. Actors Jeremy Renner and Robert Downey Jr. rang the NYSE opening bell Monday with representatives from Marvel Entertainment. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
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