NEW YORK Wall Street was flat on Monday afternoon as losses in energy shares were offset by consumer discretionary gains and investors laid low ahead of a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting.
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 clues about future hikes.
"If investors are inclined to make a bet, then they're better served by waiting a few days," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago.
Global oil prices fell as much as 4 percent on concerns a six-week market recovery has gone beyond fundamentals.
The recent rally 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 about 1 percent in 2016, after having declined as much as 10.5 percent in mid-February.
Investors are also waiting this week on the release of economic data, including U.S. retail sales.
"There's a lot of information," Ablin said, "I would say information that has the potential to change outlooks."
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was up 27.12 points, or 0.16 percent, to 17,240.43, the S&P 500 .SPX had lost 2.29 points, or 0.11 percent, to 2,019.9 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC had added 2.62 points, or 0.06 percent, to 4,751.08.
Eight of the 10 major S&P sectors were lower. The energy sector .SPNY fell 0.5 percent. Schlumberger's (SLB.N) 2 percent fall and Baker Hughes' (BHI.N) 4 percent decline weighed the most on the sector.
The consumer discretionary sector .SPLRCD was up 0.4 percent.
McDonald's (MCD.N) and Boeing (BA.N) gave the biggest boosts to the Dow.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts (HOT.N) was up 8.2 percent at $76.19 after the hotel operator received a takeover offer of $76 per share from a consortium of companies. Marriott (MAR.O), which had been set to take over Starwood, was up 3.5 percent at $71.29.
GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH.O) soared as much as 132 percent to $89.11 after the company's experimental cannabis-based drug succeeded in treating children with a rare form of severe epilepsy.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,674 to 1,282, for a 1.31-to-1 ratio on the downside; on the Nasdaq, 1,414 issues fell and 1,324 advanced for a 1.07-to-1 ratio favouring decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 12 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 38 new highs and 18 new lows.
(Additional reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian and Meredith Mazzilli)
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Updated Date: Mar 15, 2016 01:00 AM