© Reuters. Trader works at the New York Stock Exchange

By Sruthi Shankar and Susan Mathew

(Reuters) – Oil stocks shed the most on the S&P 500 on Tuesday, taking the benchmark index further away from record highs, as investors nervously awaited the latest in the U.S.-Iran standoff.

A near 2% loss for oil majors Exxon Mobil Corp (N:) and Chevron Corp (N:) kept the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average () also in the red, as oil prices surrendered some of the gains made in the last few days. [O/R]

The tech-heavy Nasdaq remained buoyant as chipmakers resumed their strong rally from 2019 on the back of positive company updates.

Equity markets have been trying to shake off concerns from escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran after the killing of a top Iranian military commander by the United States.

After a record-setting New Year, last week’s U.S. drone strike that killed Iran’s Qassem Soleimani jolted global stocks that have been attempting to stabilize.

“Clearly, the headline concern is how and when Iran will retaliate. But markets are taking it in their stride right now,” said Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist for LPL Financial.

“There will likely be a retaliation, but hopefully the impact on the overall global economy, specifically the U.S. will not be enough to slow it down.”

Latest data showed new orders for U.S.-made goods fell in November, pulled down by steep declines in demand for machinery and transportation equipment, pointing to sustained weakness in manufacturing.

However, another reading on the non-manufacturing sector activity for November came in better than expected.

The Philadelphia Semicondcutor index () rose 2% helped by Micron Technology Inc (O:), which jumped 7.5% after brokerage Cowen & Co upgraded the chipmaker to “outperform”, citing an earlier-than-expected recovery in the memory market.

Microchip Technology Inc (O:) rose 6.6% after raising the mid-point of its third-quarter sales forecast.

At 1:08 p.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average () was down 107.20 points, or 0.37%, at 28,596.18, the S&P 500 () was down 7.07 points, or 0.22%, at 3,239.21 and the Nasdaq Composite () was up 13.09 points, or 0.14%, at 9,084.56.

Apache Corp (N:) soared 26.8% after it made a major oil discovery, with France’s Total SA (PA:), off the coast of Suriname.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.41-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.15-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 36 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 85 new highs and 12 new lows.

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