September 13, 2012 / 2:41 PM / 5 years ago

GLOBAL-MARKETS-U.S. stocks little changed, oil up as Fed awaited

* Jobless, wholesale inflation data reinforce easing view

* Dollar falls broadly as markets bet on Fed easing

* U.S. Treasuries rise ahead of Fed, 30-year auction

* Crude oil extends gains

By Ellen Freilich

NEW YORK, Sept 13 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed and the dollar weakened on Thursday as investors awaited the outcome of the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting, with expectations high that the U.S. central bank will announce a new round of monetary easing.

The euro, however, weakened against the dollar on a report that Greece may need a third bailout.

U.S. Treasuries rose on the expectations that the Fed will launch a new round of bond purchases to spur the economy and ahead of a sale of 30-year bonds. Oil prices climbed, stoked by tensions in the Middle East as well as the Fed meeting.

Markets expect the U.S. central bank, in its policy statement due out at the close of its two-day meeting later in the day, in addition to announcing further quantitative easing will signal that the weak U.S. economy will require very low interest rates for at least another three years.

“Given Bernanke’s comments at Jackson Hole, the markets expect some sort of easing,” said Matthew Lifson, senior trader and analyst at Cambridge Mercantile Group in Princeton, New Jersey.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, at the Fed’s annual conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, last month, had stressed the need to bring down the country’s stubbornly high jobless rate and said the U.S. central bank would act as needed to spur the recovery.

U.S. economic data released on Thursday reinforced the view on Fed easing. The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits rose in the latest week to a two-month high of 382,000, though part of the increase was attributed to effects of Tropical Storm Isaac.

The government also reported that wholesale prices excluding volatile food and energy costs rose 0.2 percent in August, slowing from a 0.4 percent increase in July.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 15.99 points, or 0.12 percent, at 13,349.34. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 1.16 points, or 0.08 percent, at 1,437.72. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 6.89 points, or 0.22 percent, at 3,121.21.

“The upside (for stocks) is probably less than the downside. The real question is, What is the long-term impact and can we get coordinated fiscal policy and governmental or congressional stimulus in conjunction with the monetary policy?” said Jordan Waxman, a managing director at HighTower Advisors in New York.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 10/32, with the yield at 1.7213 percent.

The dollar fell to a seven-month low against the yen.

The dollar suffered from expectations that quantitative easing would dilute the value of the currency. The euro was helped by signs the euro zone may be starting to get on top of its debt troubles.

The euro fell to session lows against the dollar, with traders citing a Dow Jones report quoting an International Monetary Fund official as saying that Greece may need a third bailout. The report also reported Greece can’t bridge funding gap and has met only 22 percent of program targets, traders said.

The euro hit a session low of $1.2881 and was last at $1.2898.

The Fed expectations and a rise in tensions in the Middle East following the killing of the U.S. ambassador in Libya pushed oil prices above $116 per barrel, consolidating a 30 percent rise since late June. Gold prices hovered at six-month highs.

The MSCI index of global shares was down 0.04 percent, just below a five-month high reached on Wednesday after a German court gave the green light to the euro zone’s new bailout fund.

Shares in Europe dipped in light trade. The FTSEurofirst 300 index of pan-European shares was down 0.33 percent at 1104.39 points.

The Fed’s decision is expected to be released at 12:30 p.m. ET (1630 GMT), followed by Chairman Ben Bernanke’s news conference about two hours later.

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