US STOCKS-S&P, Dow flat as energy weighs; Fed minutes awaited

* Fed minutes expected at 2 p.m. ET

* Oil falls more than 3 pct on rising OPEC exports

* O’Reilly’s weak comp sales drag down auto-parts retailers

* Dow down 0.06 pct, S&P up 0.08 pct, Nasdaq up 0.43 pct
(Adds details, changes quote, updates prices)

By Tanya Agrawal

July 5 (Reuters) – The S&P 500 and the Dow were little
changed in choppy trading on Wednesday, with a fall in oil
prices taking a toll on energy stocks, but the Nasdaq was
propped up by gains in tech shares.

Crude prices fell 3 percent, ending their longest bull-run
in more than five years, hurt by rising OPEC exports and a
stronger dollar.

Shares of Exxon and Chevron were down more
than 1 percent, weighing the most on the S&P and the Dow.

The Federal Reserve is due to release minutes of its last
meeting later in the day. Investors will look for more clues on
its next rate hike and details on the central bank’s plan to cut
its crisis-era bond portfolio.

A recent set of tepid economic data and an inflation rate
below the central bank’s 2 percent target may have a bearing on
the Fed’s rate hike plans.

“The biggest question mark for investors today is going to
be an indication as far as timing is concerned for when the Fed
is going to begin their balance sheet reduction plans,” said
Marcelle Daher, senior managing director, asset allocation at
Manulife Asset Management.

“In general they have indicated September, with the last
rate hike for 2017 to fall in the December time frame, so
anything that confirms or denies that assumption is going to be
interesting for the market.”

At 11:02 a.m. ET (1502 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial
Average was down 12.76 points, or 0.06 percent, at
21,466.51.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 26.14 points, or 0.43
percent, at 6,136.20 and the S&P 500 was up 1.99 points,
or 0.08 percent, at 2,431.

The tech sector led the S&P gainers with a 0.69
percent rise, with Apple, Microsoft and Amazon
lifting the sector.

Tech stocks have been volatile in the past few weeks on
concerns over the sector’s valuation, after powering the S&P’s
record run this year.

“In a world of muted growth, tech stocks can still be
attractive for delivering attractive rates of earnings growth
… However, because of the positioning around tech, there is to
be expected a period of consolidation,” Daher said.

O’Reilly Automotive slumped as much as 19.9 percent
to a near three-year low after its second-quarter same-store
sales widely missed its own estimates. The stock dragged down
other auto-parts retailers with Autozone and Advance
Auto Parts falling 9.4 percent and 14 percent.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,953
to 830. On the Nasdaq, 1,637 issues fell and 1,066 advanced.
(Reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil
D’Silva)

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