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US STOCKS-S&P and Dow flat on lackluster data, Apple boosts Nasdaq

* August retail sales drop more-than-expected

* Industrial output drops by 0.4 pct vs est. 0.3 pct

* Apple up for 4th day as iPhone 7 Plus sells out

* Dow down 0.07 pct, S&P down 0.1 pct, Nasdaq up 0.15 pct (Updates to open)

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

Sept 15 The S&P 500 and the Dow were little changed on Thursday morning following a lackluster set of data, while the Nasdaq got a boost from Apple.

Investors got a blast of economic data, including a bigger-than-expected drop in retail sales and industrial output for August, which pointed at some weakness in the U.S. economy.

A separate report showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose less than expected last week, pointing to a further tightening in labor market conditions.

"We're right now in a Goldilocks economy. It's not too hot, it's not too cold. It's just right to keep the Fed on the sidelines and keep interest rates right where they are," said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.

Investors have been fretting over the possibility of a rate hike when the data-dependent Federal Reserve holds its policy-setting meeting next week, especially after contrasting comments from Fed officials in the past few days.

Traders slashed the odds of a hike in September to 9 percent from 15 percent after the data, and pushed down the chances of a December move to 46.2 percent from 52.8 percent, according to the CME Group's FedWatch tool.

At 9:40 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 11.85 points, or 0.07 percent, at 18,022.92.

The S&P 500 was down 2.11 points, or 0.1 percent, at 2,123.66.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 7.70 points, or 0.15 percent, at 5,181.47.

Half of the 10 major S&P 500 indexes were higher, led by a 0.48 percent rise in the technology sector.

Apple was up 2.4 percent to $114.44, its fourth straight day of gains, after the company said the first batch of the iPhone 7 Plus sold out. The stock gave the biggest boost to all three indexes.

The energy index was the second biggest gainer, boosted by as oil prices rebound after two days of steep declines.

Aerie Pharmaceuticals soared more than 60 percent to $33.70 after its eye drug was successful in a trial.

Goodyear was the top percentage gainer on the S&P, rising 4.7 percent after it hiked its quarterly dividend and maintained financial targets for 2017.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,418 to 1,140. On the Nasdaq, 1,067 issues rose and 1,054 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed one new 52-week high and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 14 new highs and 15 new lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)

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