US stocks little changed ahead of Fed; oil shares fall
NEW YORK–Wall Street stocks finished little changed Monday as the market absorbed losses in petroleum stocks while looking ahead to a two-day US Federal Reserve monetary policy meeting that begins Tuesday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 12.53 points (0.07 percent) to 16,817.94.
The broad-based S&P 500 dipped 2.95 (0.15 percent) to 1,961.63 , while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index edged up 2.22 (0.05 percent) to 4,484.93.
Investors are looking to Wednesday’s Fed meeting to see if the central bank will follow through on its plan to end its bond-buying program and offer any additional comment on its expectations to raise benchmark interest rates in 2015.
Investors hammered petroleum stocks, including oil services company Halliburton (-6.1 percent) and Marathon Oil Co. (-4.4 percent), after Goldman Sachs slashed its forecast for first-quarter 2015 oil prices. Dow members ExxonMobil and Chevron both dropped 0.8 percent.
Dow component Merck fell 2.0 percent as it reported a 20.4 percent drop in third-quarter earnings to $895 million on revenues that came in below expectations. The results translated into earnings of 90 cents per share, two cents above analyst forecasts.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals of Canada advanced 1.1 percent as it signaled it would raise its bid for Allergan to $60 billion. Botox-maker Allergan lost 1.0 percent following earnings that translated into $1.78 per share, 10 cents above analyst forecasts.
Banana producer Chiquita Brands International gained 1.4 percent after announcing it agreed to be bought by Brazilian juice exporter Cutrale Group and investment bank Safra Group in a $1.3 billion deal.
The deal came after Chiquita shareholders rejected Friday a separate plan to merge with Irish fruit rival Fyffes.
Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury dipped to 2.26 percent from 2.27 percent Friday, while the 30-year dropped to 3.03 percent from 3.05 percent. Yields and prices move inversely.
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