Wall Street flat at open as investors remain on the sidelines

The New York Stock Exchange in New York.
The New York Stock Exchange in New York. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - US stocks were little changed on Wednesday (March 29) as investors awaited comments from a host of Federal Reserve officials for clues on the number of interest rate hikes this year.

Chicago Fed President Charles Evans, who has consistently been dovish on interest rates, said he supported one or two more hikes this year as the US economy improves.

Boston President Eric Rosengren and his San Francisco counterpart John Williams are due to speak later in the day.

Investors also appeared to remain on the sidelines, expecting some uncertainty after Britain started a process to exit the European Union.

Nine months after Britons voted to leave, British Prime Minister Theresa May notified EU Council President Donald Tusk in a letter that the UK is quitting the bloc it joined in 1973.

The US dollar rose on the Brexit development, building on gains from a day earlier, while prices of safe-haven gold also moved higher on uncertainty regarding trade policies between the EU and Britain.

Wall Street showcased an impressive recovery on Tuesday, with the Dow snapping an eight-day losing streak after robust consumer data pointed to the strength in the U.S. economy and eased jitters about the impact of a failed healthcare bill. "The markets are tranquil after yesterday's new burst of confidence rally forced shorts to cover," Mr Cardillo wrote.

At 9:41 a.m. EDT (9:41 p.m Singapore time), the Dow Jones industrial average was down 32.26 points, or 0.16 per cent, at 20,669.24, the S&P 500 was down 2.21 points, or 0.09 per cent, at 2,356.36 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 5.27 points, or 0.09 per cent, at 5,880.41.

Six of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were lower, with utilities taking the biggest blow.