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US: Stocks flat ahead of Fed statement

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[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks finished nearly flat on Tuesday as the market absorbed a deluge of mostly solid earnings and awaited a policy statement from the Federal Reserve.

Analysts said the mushy trade reflected a wait-and-see approach ahead of Wednesday's Fed statement. While the US central bank is expected to keep interest rates unchanged, its commentary will be scrutinised for clues on the prospects for future interest rate increases.

"We'll be looking for the tone," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up less than 0.1 per cent at 17,990.32.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 0.2 per cent to 2,091.70, while the tech-rich Nasdaq dipped 0.2 per cent to 4,888.31.

Procter & Gamble fell 2.3 per cent after reporting that fiscal third-quarter sales fell 6.9 per cent to US$15.8 billion due to the strong dollar and weak demand from oil-dependent countries.

DuPont rose 2.4 per cent as it said the strong dollar would not weigh on earnings as much as previously feared. DuPont also said its agriculture business had benefited from higher corn plantings than previously expected.

Other companies to report earnings included: Lockheed Martin, down 2.6 per cent; Whirlpool, down 3.6 per cent; 3M, down 1.3 per cent; and Corning, down 8.4 per cent.

Google parent Alphabet fell 2.1 per cent following a Wall Street Journal report that the Federal Trade Commission is probing whether Google abuses the dominant power of its Android smartphone software in the market.

AFP