Wall Street was little changed on Monday as losses in energy shares were offset by gains in consumer discretionary stocks and investors paused ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's meeting on monetary policy this week.
U.S. crude fell more than 4 percent after Iran quashed hopes of a quick deal by major producers to freeze output. Brent crude fell below $40 a barrel.
"Looks like a slight hangover from the party that we had last week," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago.
A recent recovery in oil prices and data pointing to a strengthening U.S. economy have helped stocks recover from a steep selloff at the start of the year.
The S&P 500 is now down only about 1 percent in 2016, after having declined as much as 10.5 percent in mid-February.
"Call it the calm before the storm. This is really probably not a day to make too many big bets, given that we could have some outlook changing information in the next couple of days," Ablin said.
The Fed is not expected to raise interest rates at the two-day meeting, which begins on Tuesday, but investors will be on the lookout for its view on the economy and clues on the path of future hikes.
At 12:44 p.m. ET (1644 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was up 23.22 points, or 0.13 percent, at 17,236.53, the S&P 500 was down 2.49 points, or 0.12 percent, at 2,019.7 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 5.18 points, or 0.11 percent, at 4,753.64.
Five of the 10 major S&P sectors were lower. The energy sector fell 1.09 percent. Schlumberger's 2.4 percent fall and Baker Hughes' 5.2 percent decline weighed the most on the sector.
The consumer discretionary sector was up 0.43 percent.
McDonald's was up 1.4 percent and gave the biggest boost to the Dow, while Microsoft's 0.8 percent rise supported the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts was up 7.6 percent at $75.74 after the hotel operator received a takeover offer of $76 per share from a consortium of companies. Marriott, which was set to take over Starwood, was up 2.9 percent at $70.89.
GW Pharmaceuticals soared as much as 132 percent to $89.40 after the company's experimental cannabis-based drug succeeded in treating children with a rare form of severe epilepsy in a keenly anticipated clinical trial.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,819 to 1,104. On the Nasdaq, 1,503 issues fell and 1,165 rose.
The S&P 500 index showed 12 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 34 new highs and 18 new lows.
(Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Don Sebastian)
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Published Date: Mar 14, 2016 11:15 pm | Updated Date: Mar 14, 2016 11:15 pm