April 1, 2015 / 3:38 PM / 3 years ago

BUZZ-U.S. stocks: What's hot, what's not

** A slow March but S&P 500 hangs on to eke out its ninth straight quarterly gain.

** Year-to-date heat map: link.reuters.com/cav44w

** Strengthening US$ hitting exporter profits, low oil prices, geopolitics and timing of Fed rate hike persist while European and Japanese equities lure funds away

** M&A frenzy plants healthcare in commanding lead as Valeant Pharmaceuticals completes $11 bln Salix Pharmaceuticals acquisition and UnitedHealth announces buy of pharmacy benefit manager Catamaran

** Investors betting consumer discretionary stocks have plenty to gain from cheaper gas prices; Amazon touches 52-week high and Disney and Home Depot set life highs

** Weak PC trends and Sandisk’s sluggish forecast send SOX into tailspin, though Intel’s reported interest in Altera sparks speculation of industry consolidation

** Financials underperform as U.S. banks contend with legal bills and American Express loses Costco partnership and antitrust suit over merchant rules

** Energy near bottom as reduced rig count fails to dent oil supply glut

** Utilities languish, down 6 pct YTD, but off their lows, and REITs post 3 pct gain as Fed rate hike expectations are pushed back to later in year (Messaging: lance.tupper.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)

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