US stock indexes little changed, data indicates moderate growth

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - U.S. stocks were little changed on Wednesday as a barrage of data painted a picture of moderate economic growth, giving Federal Reserve policymakers more to chew on as they consider whether to raise interest rates next month.

Worries about the fallout from the downing of a Russian warplane by Turkey, which weighed on stocks on Tuesday, eased as traders looked forward to Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday. "The market will be guided by the macro news of the day, notwithstanding the geopolitical concerns that remain elevated,"said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial in New York.

Data showed claims for jobless benefits fell more than expected to 260,000 last week, while durable goods orders for October, excluding aircraft, increased 1.3 per cent, far more than the 0.4 per cent expected.

However, other data showed consumer spending increased just 0.1 per cent in October, less than the 0.3 per cent expected.

At 9:36 a.m. ET (9.36 pm Singapore time), the Dow Jones industrial average was up 8.75 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 17,820.94.

The S&P 500 was up 0.5 points, or 0.02 per cent, at 2,089.64, while the Nasdaq Composite index was up 7.86 points, or 0.15 per cent, at 5,110.67.

Five of the 10 major S&P sectors were higher, with the consumer discretionary sector's 0.4 percent rise leading the advancers. Amazon, up 1 percent at $677.55, was the biggest influence on the sector.

The Fed holds its last policy meeting of the year on Dec. 15-16, when it will decide whether to raise interest rates for the first time since 2006.

Crude oil resumed its slide as investors turned their focus back to a global supply glut. Shares of Exxon and Chevron fell marginally.