Wall Street trudged through a listless session Monday, closing narrowly mixed as oil prices edged closer to $45 a barrel and investors hoped for assurance from the Federal Reserve that the economy was still on track.
Trading was light in advance of Tuesday's Fed meeting, at which the Open Market Committee will decide whether to raise baseline interest rates by a quarter percentage point, to 1.5 percent. While the move had been widely expected before last week, a recent string of bad news has left Wall Street wondering whether the Fed will -- or should -- raise rates.
"Tomorrow is going to be key. We're going to look very carefully at what the Fed has to say," said Russ Koesterich, U.S. equity strategist at State Street Corp. in Boston. "Until then, there's no real conviction in trading. You're seeing some bargain hunting, but we're not seeing the signs of a true bottom here."
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.67, or 0.01 percent, to 9814.66. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose 1.25, or 0.1 percent, to 1065.22, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 2.25, or 0.1 percent, to 1774.64.
The government reported Monday that wholesale inventories rose 1.1 percent in June. Wall Street had been expecting a 0.6 percent rise for the month. While the inventory figure shows strong industrial productivity, it also raises questions on whether supply may soon outpace a reduced consumer demand.
Charter Communications slipped 1 cent, to $3.07, after posting a loss of $1.35 per share for the quarter. The media company assumed new pretax losses that it previously applied to a subsidiary.
Cablevision Systems swung to a loss in the second quarter because of investment losses and poor performance in its satellite and cinema divisions. The company did improve its outlook, however. Cablevision fell 46 cents, to $16.68.
Citigroup gained 28 cents, to $43.47, after announcing the purchase of Knight Trading Group's derivatives business for $225 million in cash. Knight rose 47 cents, to $8.76.
* The New York Stock Exchange composite index rose 1.72, to 6227.55; the American Stock Exchange index fell 3.34, to 1217.94; and the Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 1.27, to 518.38.
* Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones by 8 to 7 on the NYSE, where trading volume fell to 1.08 billion shares, from 1.51 billion on Friday. On the Nasdaq Stock Market, decliners outnumbered advancers by 3 to 2 and volume totaled 1.25 billion, down from 1.68 billion.
* The price of the Treasury's 10-year note fell $3.75 per $1,000 invested, and its yield rose to 4.26 percent, from 4.22 percent on Friday.
* The dollar rose against the Japanese yen and the euro. In late New York trading, a dollar bought 110.54 yen, up from 110.36 late Friday, and a euro bought $1.2275, down from $1.2277.
* Light, sweet crude oil for September delivery settled at $44.84, up 89 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
* Gold for current delivery rose to $400.70 a troy ounce, from $399.80 on Friday, on the New York Mercantile Exchange's Commodity Exchange.