US STOCKS-U.S. stocks flat as investors wait for fresh catalysts

* Oil prices fall after BNP Paribas, Barclays cut price
forecasts

* Yellen to testify later in the week

* Indexes: Dow down 0.02 pct, S&P 0.12 pct, Nasdaq up 0.06
pct
(Updates to open)

By Ankur Banerjee and Anya George Tharakan

July 11 (Reuters) – U.S. stock indexes were little changed
on Tuesday as investors waited for more hints on interest rate
hikes from Federal Reserve policymakers and the start of
second-quarter earnings.

Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen starts two days of
testimony on Wednesday as it prepares to unwind the massive
hoard of bonds it bought to ease the financial crisis.

“We’ve got Yellen’s testimony tomorrow, there may be a
little bit of nervousness ahead of that … the semi-annual
monetary policy testimony has often been a big deal for the
markets,” Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St.
Petersburg, Florida.

“I think there may be some fears that she’s going to come
out relatively hawkish.”

The Federal Reserve Board Governor Lael Brainard will speak
on monetary policy on Tuesday before a conference hosted by the
Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President Neel
Kashkari will participate in a Town Hall question-and-answer
session moderated by Bremer Bank CEO Jeanne Crain in
Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Oil prices fell as BNP Paribas cut its forecasts for Brent
by $9 to $51 a barrel for 2017 and by $15 to $48 for 2018.
Barclays also cut its 2017 and 2018 Brent forecasts to $52 a
barrel.

Crude prices are about 18 percent below their 2017 opening
levels despite a deal led by the Organization of the Petroleum
Exporting Countries to cut production from January.

The dollar hit a four-month high against the yen and bonds
and top emerging market currencies were back under pressure, on
bets for higher interest rates in a small but growing group of
major economies.

Investors will be looking at second-quarter earnings reports
on Friday from big U.S. banks including JPMorgan Chase,
Wells Fargo and Citigroup.

“My sense is you get a little bit of back and forth, no real
clear sense of direction over the next several days,” said
Brown.

Nine of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were lower, dragged
down by losses in financials and technology
sectors.

At 10:04 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones industrial average
was down 5 points, or 0.02 percent, at 21,403.52, the S&P 500
was down 2.84 points, or 0.116996 percent, at 2,424.59
and the Nasdaq Composite was up 3.47 points, or 0.06
percent, at 6,179.87.

Shares of Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc soar about 37
percent after the drug developer said on Monday its experimental
drug for a rare but deadly lung disease met the main goal in a
mid-stage study.

Halcon Resources Corp’s shares were up 40 percent
after the oil producer said on Tuesday it would sell assets it
operates in the Williston Basin to Bruin E&P Partners for $1.4
billion in cash.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,497
to 1,073, for a 1.40-to-1 ratio on the downside. On the Nasdaq,
1,252 issues fell and 1,206 advanced for a 1.04-to-1 ratio
favoring decliners.
(Reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun
Koyyur)


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