Wall St flat in low-volume session

VIDEO: REUTERS
People walk by the New York Stock Exchange in New York City.
People walk by the New York Stock Exchange in New York City.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - US stocks were little changed on Wednesday (Nov 22) with telecom services shares among the biggest movers, while energy sector also rose tracking gains in crude oil.

Verizon and AT&T rose 2.2 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively on bets they will benefit from the U.S. government's plan to rescind net neutrality rules.

"Stocks are up given the end is in sight for net neutrality as it had been defined in 2015," said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

"They would be allowed to charge the originators of the data to more accurately reflect the speed and the volume of data."

With three Republican and two Democratic commissioners, the Federal Communications Commission is all but certain to approve the change.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise chief executive Meg Whitman said she would step down in February, sending the company's shares down 7.1 per cent to US$13.11.

HP, which holds the computer and printer business that Whitman carved out of Hewlett Packard, lost 5.1 per cent after reporting an unimpressive profit.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 52.18 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 23,538.65, the S&P 500 lost 0.51 point, or 0.02 per cent, to 2,598.52 and the Nasdaq Composite added 4.99 points, or 0.07 per cent, to 6,867.47.

The S&P 500 energy index rose 0.6 per cent as US crude prices jumped 2 per cent.

Many Federal Reserve policymakers expect interest rates to be raised in the "near term," according to the minutes of the US central bank's most recent policy meeting released on Wednesday. Stock investors were not surprised by the minutes and the market barely moved after their release.

"Not a lot of revelations came through in the Fed minutes,"said John Velis, vice-president of Global Macro Strategy at State Street Global Markets in Boston. "Seems everyone is packed up."

Trading volumes were thin ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday and an early close on Friday.

Shares of Chipmaker Qualcomm rose 1.9 per cent after Reuters reported Broadcom is considering raising its offer to buy its larger rival by offering more of its own stock.

Tractor maker Deere & Co rose 4.2 per cent to US$145.06 and touched a record high of US$146 after reporting upbeat quarterly earnings and issuing a strong profit forecast for the year.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.44-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.32-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 25 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 139 new highs and 20 new lows.