* Fed's two-day meeting kicks off on Tuesday
* Traders see 94 pct chance of rate hike after Fed meeting
* Boeing weighs on Dow after Morgan Stanley downgrade
* Indexes up: Dow 0.07 pct, S&P 0.06 pct, Nasdaq 0.09 pct
(Updates to open)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
March 13 U.S. stocks were little changed on
Monday as investors preferred to hold their bets ahead of a
widely expected interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve later
The Federal Open Market Committee, the central bank's
policy-setting board, is expected to lift interest rates by a
quarter point to 0.75 percent-1.00 percent after a two-day
meeting that starts on Tuesday.
All the major S&P 500 sectors were trading within a small
range, indicating a subdued appetite on Wall Street.
Materials led the gainers with a mere 0.23 percent
rise, while consumer staples were the biggest losers, but off
just 0.14 percent.
A blowout monthly jobs number on Friday underscored the
strength of the U.S. labor market and the ability of the economy
to absorb a rate hike.
Traders have placed a 94 percent bet that Fed Chair Janet
Yellen will announce an increase on Wednesday.
Investors will closely watch Yellen's comments for clues on
whether the central bank could get more aggressive on rates as
the economy shows signs of improvement.
"Right now the markets appears to be in a wait-and-see phase
ahead of the Fed decision," said Andre Bakhos, managing director
at Janlyn Capital in Bernardsville, New Jersey.
At 9:34 a.m. ET (1334 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average
was up 14.93 points, or 0.07 percent, at 20,917.91, the
S&P 500 was up 1.41 points, or 0.06 percent, at 2,374.01
and the Nasdaq Composite was up 5.18 points, or 0.09
percent, at 5,866.90.
The dollar, which tends to strengthen as rates climb, was up
for the first time in three days, but prices of safe-haven gold
also rose due to uncertainty ahead of elections in Europe.
Wall Street ended higher on Friday, but the S&P 500 and the
Nasdaq snapped a six-week winning streak as worries about
valuations and the lack of detail on President Donald Trump's
policy proposals threw a wrinkle in a post-election rally.
"We're at a point where no one wants to walk into the dark
room first. Even though a rate hike is a known factor, there is
still some uncertainty as to whether the economy is going to do
what the market has been betting on," Bakhos said.
Shares of Mobileye jumped nearly 30 percent to
$61.10 after chipmaker Intel agreed to buy the
driverless technology maker for about $15.3 billion. Intel's
shares were off 0.6 percent.
Nutritional supplements maker Herbalife rose 3.8
percent to $54.26 after billionaire investor Carl Icahn raised
its stake to 24.57 percent.
Boeing was the biggest drag on the Dow, down 0.7
percent following a downgrade by Morgan Stanley.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,606
to 940. On the Nasdaq, 1,352 issues rose and 876 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 17 new 52-week highs and no new
lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 33 new highs and five new lows.
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by