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US: Wall St flat as oil gains offset Intel's drag

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[NEW YORK] Wall Street was little changed on Wednesday as gains in energy and financial stocks were offset by a drop in technology shares, led by Intel.

Intel fell 4.7 per cent, the biggest drag on all three indexes, after the chipmaker's disappointing current-quarter revenue forecast. The news pulled the Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index 1.1 per cent lower.

Oil prices rose 1.3 per cent as the dollar eased and data showed Chinese output dropped while US inventories shrunk.

The energy sector's 1.01 per cent rise was the most among the 11 major S&P 500 indexes, also boosted by Halliburton's 3 per cent jump following its surprise quarterly profit.

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Morgan Stanley rose 1.7 per cent after its quarterly profit and revenue beat consensus estimates, rounding off a strong quarter for big US banks. Fellow investment bank Goldman Sachs was up 1.3 per cent.

At 9:43 am ET (1343 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 27.46 points, or 0.15 per cent, at 18,189.4.

The S&P 500 was up 0.22 points, or 0.01 per cent, at 2,139.82 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 7.73 points, or 0.15 per cent, at 5,236.10.

Five of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower. Consumer staples fell the most, by 0.77 per cent. The sector was dragged down by tobacco company Reynolds American, which fell 4 per cent as its results missed estimates.

Through Tuesday, earnings from S&P 500 companies had largely beaten market expectations, putting them on track to post profit growth for the first time in five quarters. Analysts now estimate earnings increased 0.2 per cent in the third quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

While investors assess the flood of corporate earnings reports, they also await the Federal Reserve's Beige Book at noon, which will contain commentary on economic health.

The third and final US presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton starts later in the evening. A Clinton presidency would be more positive for the markets as her positions are more well known than those of Trump, according to a Reuters poll.

Among earnings, pipeline operator Kinder Morgan and payments processor American Express will issue results after the close.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,643 to 965. On the Nasdaq, 1,140 issues rose and 1,091 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed five new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 16 new highs and 21 new lows.