Wall Street little changed at open as oil prices near 11-year lows

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Wall Street was little changed on Monday, two days ahead of an expected U.S. interest rate hike, as crude oil prices hovered near 11-year lows.

The S&P energy sector was down 0.33 per cent on Monday on growing concerns that the global oil glut would worsen next year.

The Federal Reserve begins a two-day policy meeting on Tuesday at which it is expected to raise interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade.

Traders see an 85 per cent chance the central bank will lift its target rate range to 0.25 per cent to 0.50 percent from the current zero to 0.25 per cent, according to CME Group's FedWatch program.

"Stocks are relatively quiet this morning, which is somewhat normal, after last week's shellacking," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital in New York.

Mr Sarhan said the lack of strong economic data from China or the United States has left investors looking for the next bullish catalyst. "The big obvious elephant in the room for this week is the Fed," he said.

At 10:01 a.m. ET (11.01 pm Singapore time), the Dow Jones industrial average was down 16.6 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 17,248.61, the S&P 500 was down 1.06 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 2,011.31 and the Nasdaq Composite index was down 0.12 points, or -0 per cent, at 4,933.35.

Seven of the 10 major S&P sectors were lower, led by the materials sector's 1.5 per cent fall.

DuPont shares were down 4.3 per cent at US$67.37 after the company agreed on Friday to merge with Dow Chemical in a US$130 billion deal. Dow Chemical was down 4 per cent at US$51.27.

Apple was down 1.7 percent at US$111.23 after Morgan Stanley and Barclays cut their price targets on the stock.

The S&P 500 index showed no new 52-week highs and 30 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 8 new highs and 89 new lows.