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US STOCKS-S&P, Dow flat as energy drags; Fed minutes awaited
July 5, 2017 / 5:30 PM / in 5 months

US STOCKS-S&P, Dow flat as energy drags; Fed minutes awaited

* Fed minutes expected at 2 p.m. ET

* Oil falls more than 3 pct on rising OPEC exports

* O‘Reilly’s weak comp sales drag down auto-parts retailers

* Dow down 0.03 pct, S&P up 0.12 pct, Nasdaq up 0.60 pct (Updates to early afternoon)

By Tanya Agrawal

July 5 (Reuters) - A fall in oil prices took a toll on energy stocks, capping gains on the S&P 500 and the Dow, while a rise in shares of chipmakers lifted the Nasdaq.

Crude prices fell 3 percent, ending their longest bull-run in more than five years, hurt by rising OPEC exports and a stronger dollar.

Shares of Exxon and Chevron were down more than 1 percent, weighing the most on the two major indexes.

The Federal Reserve is due to release minutes of its last meeting in less than an hour. Investors will look for more clues on the next rate hike and details on the central bank’s plan to cut its crisis-era bond portfolio.

A recent set of tepid economic data and an inflation rate below the central bank’s 2 percent target may have a bearing on the Fed’s rate hike plans.

“The biggest question mark for investors today is going to be an indication as far as timing is concerned for when the Fed is going to begin their balance sheet reduction plans,” said Marcelle Daher, senior managing director, asset allocation at Manulife Asset Management.

“In general they have indicated September, with the last rate hike for 2017 to fall in the December time frame, so anything that confirms or denies that assumption is going to be interesting for the market.”

At 13:06 p.m. ET (1706 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 5.51 points, or 0.03 percent, at 21,473.76.

The S&P 500 was up 2.92 points, or 0.12 percent, at 2,431.93 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 36.82 points, or 0.6 percent, at 6,146.88.

The tech sector’s 1.02 percent rise led the S&P gainers, with AMD, Micron and Nvidia boosting the sector.

Tech stocks have been volatile in the past few weeks on concerns over the sector’s valuation, after powering the S&P’s record run this year.

“In a world of muted growth, tech stocks can still be attractive for delivering attractive rates of earnings growth ... However, because of the positioning around tech, there is to be expected a period of consolidation,” Daher said.

O‘Reilly Automotive slumped as much as 21.1 percent to a near three-year low after its second-quarter same-store sales widely missed its own estimates.

The stock dragged down other auto-parts retailers, with Autozone and Advance Auto Parts falling 9.4 percent and 14 percent.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,918 to 926. On the Nasdaq, 1,677 issues fell and 1,133 advanced. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D‘Silva)

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