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US: Stocks flat as market awaits Fed decision

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[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks were little changed early Wednesday as the market awaited a Federal Reserve interest rate decision following lackluster US economic data.

The Fed is expected to raise the benchmark lending rate later Wednesday at the conclusion of its two-day meeting, but analysts questioned whether the latest data would prompt Fed Chair Janet Yellen to signal a backing off of a plan for a third interest rate increase later this year.

Data showed that consumer inflation and retail sales declined in May due to lower gasoline prices, defying economists' expectations.

About 15 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 21,334.67, up slightly from Tuesday's record close.

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The broad-based S&P 500 was down a hair at 2,439.74, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dipped 0.1 per cent to 6,216.47.

Prior to the market open, at least five people including a top Republican congressman were wounded in a Washington suburb early when a shooting erupted as they practiced for an annual congressional baseball game.

Senior congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana was shot in the hip, according to fellow Republican lawmaker Mo Brooks who told CNN at least two law enforcement officers and one congressional staffer also were shot in the incident in Alexandria, Virginia, just south of Washington.

Early trading "suggests market participants are taking the various news items in stride," said Briefing.com analyst Patrick O'Hare.

"That is nothing unusual for this market, which closed yesterday at a new record high."

AFP

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