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US: Stocks flat ahead of central bank summit

[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks finished little changed Monday amid investor caution ahead of this week's Jackson Hole summit of central bankers.

Friday's Jackson Hole meeting featuring speeches by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. European Central Bank Chief Mario Draghi is expected to offer clues as to the extent that central banks will soon shift from a period of exceptionally low interest rates and aggressive stimulus.

Analysts view an abrupt shift in monetary policy as a risk to stocks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.1 per cent 21,703.75.

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The broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.1 per cent to 2,428.37, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 0.1 per cent to 6,213.13.

Trading volume was expected to be light for a period that is traditionally a peak summer vacation week and with many across the United States - including on Wall Street - distracted by a total solar eclipse.

The eclipse comes as more Republicans and business leaders criticise President Donald Trump following his muted response to a white supremacist rally in the state of Virginia, amplifying political uncertainty in the world's biggest economy.

"Wish the moon wasn't the only thing casting a shadow over the country," Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein said on Twitter.

"We got through one, we'll get through the other."

Sempra Energy rose 1.6 per cent after it reached a deal to acquire Oncor, a Texas energy distributor, for US$9.45 billion in cash and US$9 billion in assumed debt, topping a bid by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway.

Herbalife surged 9.8 per cent after announcing it would buy back as much as US$600 million in common shares. The company, which markets diet and health products, said it had been in talks to take the company private, but had terminated those conversations.

Dow member Nike fell 2.4 per cent following a downgrade by Jefferies.

AFP