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US: Wall Street flat as Apple-led tech gains offset energy losses

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[NEW YORK] Wall Street was little changed on Wednesday as gains in technology stocks, led by Apple, were offset by a decline in energy stocks on the back of lower oil prices.

Apple was up 1.6 per cent, giving the three major indexes their biggest boost and rising for the third day in a row on reports of strong demand for the new iPhones.

The technology sector was up 0.38 per cent, one of the six gainers among the 10 major S&P 500 indexes. That was in sharp contrast to the declines in all sectors on Tuesday.

U.S. stocks have swung wildly since Friday on contrasting comments from Federal Reserve officials on whether the central bank would raise interest rates at its Sept 20-21 meeting.

The benchmark S&P 500 index fell 1.4 per cent on Tuesday after having gained by a similar measure on Monday. The index had fallen 2.45 per cent on Friday.

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"The market is preparing for the worst, which is a rate hike in the US, and hoping for the best," said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

"That mindset is causing back and forth swings in the past few days." At 9:57 am ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 12.95 points, or 0.07 per cent, at 18,079.7.

The S&P 500 index was up 2.17 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 2,129.19.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 15.14 points, or 0.29 per cent, at 5,170.39.

The CBOE Market Volatility index, known as Wall Street's fear gauge, has also spiked and dropped with the stock market's gyrations. The index was down 2 per cent on Wednesday. "There are also opportunistic traders out there, short-covering and bargain hunting with the mindset to trade shorter-term and that's what is causing those sharp moves," Mr Bakhos said.

Oil prices fell 1.15 per cent, sending the S&P energy index down 0.27 per cent.

Monsanto rose 0.7 per cent to $106.89 after Bayer agreed to buy the seed maker for US$66 billion.

Vitae Pharmaceuticals shares doubled to $20.84 after Allergan said it would buy the company for US$639 million. Allergan rose 1.4 per cent.

Sarepta surged 20 per cent to US$30.70 after Oppenheimer said a key critic of company's muscle disorder drug has left the FDA.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,475 to 1,218. On the Nasdaq, 1,221 issues fell and 1,131 advanced.

The S&P 500 index showed no new 52-week highs and three new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 13 new highs and 23 new lows.


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