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US: Stocks little changed as resolution nears on Greece crisis


[NEW YORK] US stocks were little changed, after the Nasdaq Composite Index reached a record on Thursday, as investors speculate that a resolution to the Greek debt crisis is close.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index slipped 0.1 per cent to 2,119.87 at 9:32 am in New York, after rising one per cent on Thursday.

"Investors in US equities are more focused on the Fed than they are on Greece, whether they leave or stay in the euro," said Ross Yarrow, director of US equities at Robert W Baird & Co in London.

"Certainty is more important at this stage. The Fed has clearly reassured the market this week that any rate hike will be gradual - this is crucial. We've seen recoveries ruined by Fed rate mistakes."

Stock trading on Friday may be subject to unexpected swings because of a quarterly event known as quadruple witching, when futures and options contracts on indexes and individual stocks expire.

The S&P 500 has posted its best three-day run in three months, bringing it within 0.5 per cent of its all-time closing high, after slipping as much as 2.4 per cent from the May record.

It's the best performing developed-market index in June, and the only benchmark heading for a gain. Three rounds of Fed bond purchases and borrowing costs near zero have propelled the gauge up by more than 200 percent during the six-year bull market.

Greece Standoff The Federal Reserve signaled this week that it won't be raising rates quickly, with officials still holding out for more decisive evidence of a rebound in growth. Fed Chair Janet Yellen stressed on Wednesday that the Fed has no set course for raising rates, and will continue to evaluate incoming data to decide when to move.

Meanwhile, the breakdown in Greece's talks with creditors has been a non-event for US equity investors this week, with the S&P 500 up 1.3 per cent through Thursday. Traders are losing interest even as European finance officials called for an emergency meeting on Monday to resolve the Greek impasse before its financial lifeline expires at month's end.

"Right now, we're just immune to Greece," said Yousef Abbasi, the global market strategist at JonesTrading Institutional Services LLC in New York. "We're flat and taking cues from Europe's trading. Europe seems to think the Greece situation is under control and if something does happen, it won't cause contagion."