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US stocks flat as oil shares pressured

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[NEW YORK] Petroleum-linked shares retreated Wednesday ahead of a US oil inventory report as Wall Street stocks opened little-changed in sluggish trade.

Shares of Dow members ExxonMobil and Chevron dipped with oil prices after data late Tuesday from the American Petroleum Institute showed US oil stockpiles rose last week. The Department of Energy will release official reserves data later this morning.

Markets are looking ahead to Friday's speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, which could shed light on whether better US economic data boosts the odds for an interest rate hike this year.

Five minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 18,534.76, down 0.1 per cent.

The broad-based S&P 500 slipped less than 0.1 per cent to 2,186.28, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index added less than 0.1 per cent at 5,261.68.