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US STOCKS-Wall Street awaits Fed decision, trading lackluster
September 13, 2012 / 3:20 PM / in 5 years

US STOCKS-Wall Street awaits Fed decision, trading lackluster

* Third round of bond buying seen likely

* Citi cuts ratings on chipmakers; Intel falls

* Boeing down after BAE, EADS merger talks

* Indexes up: Dow 0.14 pct, S&P 0.03 pct, Nasdaq 0.07 pct

By Aleksandra Michalska

NEW YORK, Sept 13 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed on Thursday, as traders awaited an announcement by Federal Reserve policymakers that’s widely expected to include further stimulus measures for the economy.

Trading was light ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s announcement, with about 1.5 billion shares changing hands on the major U.S. exchanges by 11:00 a.m. ET (1500 GMT).

The Fed is expected to launch a third round of quantitative easing while signaling that a weak U.S. economy may warrant ultra-low interest rates for at least another three years. The FOMC announces its decision at about 12:30 p.m. ET (1630 GMT) as the two-day meeting ends.

Semiconductor shares fell after Citigroup cut its rating on several companies in the PC supply chain, including Intel Corp and Marvell Technology Group Ltd. Intel slipped 0.2 percent to $23.15 and Marvell fell 1.4 percent to $10.10. The PHLX semiconductor index lost 0.5 percent.

The S&P 500 is up more than 9 percent since the start of June on expectations global central banks will act to combat slowing growth, but some analysts said extra measures aren’t necessary.

“The market is fairly independent of new QE (quantitative easing) and this rally is not built on those expectations,” said Kevin Cook, senior stock strategist at Zacks Investment Research.

“The U.S. economy is resilient enough; big institutional investors came back to the market in June and July and kept buying every dip,” Cook said. “They are not going to go to cash, they are certainly not piling money in Europe or China, so U.S. equities are the best place to be.”

Economic data showed the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits rose more than expected last week to 382,000, with several states reporting an increase related to Tropical Storm Isaac. Wholesale prices rose 1.7 percent in August, the largest gain since June 2009, although underlying inflation pressures were contained.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 19.01 points, or 0.14 percent, at 13,352.36. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 0.41 points, or 0.03 percent, at 1,436.97. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 2.22 points, or 0.07 percent, at 3,116.53.

Pall Corp jumped 7 percent to $62.50, the biggest percentage gainer on the S&P 500, after the maker of filtration products reported fourth-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street expectations.

FirstMerit Corp said it would buy Citizens Republic Bancorp in an all-stock transaction valued at about $952 million, to expand its footprint into Michigan and Wisconsin. Citizens shares gained 2 percent to $20.28 while FirstMerit dropped 10 percent to $15.37.

Britain’s BAE Systems and Airbus-owner EADS said they are in advanced talks to create an industry giant that would overtake rival Boeing in sales and contend with defense cutbacks in Europe and the United States. Boeing shed 0.4 percent to $70.62.

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