* Fed statement at 2 p.m. ET; Yellen presser 30 mins later
* Dow less than 100 points away from 20,000 mark
* Express Scripts' fall biggest drag on Nasdaq
* Generic drugmakers hit after charges filed in price-fixing
* Dow unchanged, S&P off 0.03 pct, Nasdaq up 0.03 pct
(Updates to early afternoon)
By Tanya Agrawal
Dec 14 U.S. stocks were off their highs and were
little changed in afternoon trading on Wednesday as investors
turned their attention to the outcome of the Federal Reserve's
The Fed is widely tipped to lift rates 25 basis points, but
investors are likely to pay close attention to Fed Chair Janet
Yellen's tone and new forecasts for clues on policymakers'
thinking on how President-elect Donald Trump's policies will
impact growth and inflation.
The last rate increase was a year ago, when the Fed moved
rates from the near-zero levels reached during the 2007-2009
financial crisis. All 120 economists in a recent Reuters poll
expect a rate hike.
The announcement is due at 2 p.m. ET (1900 GMT), followed by
Yellen's news conference 30 minutes later.
"The most important thing that investors will be looking at
is the interpretation of the commentary from the Fed," said
Michael Scanlon, managing director of Manulife Asset Management.
"I think the market is pricing in about two hikes for 2017
but if the Trump administration is able to reduce corporate
taxes, I wouldn't be surprised to see four hikes next year."
U.S. stocks have been on a tear since the election, fueled
by expectations that Trump will reduce taxes and regulation and
stimulate the economy.
The Dow, which has risen about 9 percent since Nov. 8, is
less than a 100 points away from the 20,000 mark.
At 13:07 p.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was
down 0.3 points, or 0 percent, at 19,910.91, the S&P 500
was down 0.8 points, or 0.03 percent, at 2,270.92 and the Nasdaq
Composite was up 1.43 points, or 0.03 percent, at
Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower, with the
energy index's 0.72 percent drop leading the decliners.
Oil prices fell about 2 percent on renewed concerns about an
oil glut sparked by rising U.S. crude inventories in storage.
Oil major Exxon declined 1.3 percent and was the
biggest drag on the Dow.
The healthcare index declined 0.18 percent, weighed
down by a 3.6 percent fall in Express Scripts after the
pharmacy benefit manager signaled that scrutiny into drug
pricing isn't going away. The stock was also the biggest drag on
The Nasdaq biotechnology index was lower by 0.35
percent after the U.S. government filed charges in a generic
drug price-fixing probe.
Generic drugmakers, such as Mylan, Endo
International and Teva Pharmaceutical, fell
between 2.2 and 4.2 percent.
Hertz Global dropped 7.1 percent to $23.34 after the
car rental company said on Tuesday it would replace its chief
executive and reduce its board size.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,791
to 1,106. On the Nasdaq, 1,885 issues fell and 891 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed 15 new 52-week highs and one new
low, while the Nasdaq recorded 84 new highs and 35 new lows.
(Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)