Wall Street opens flat as investors seek growth catalysts

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Wall Street was little changed on Monday as investors sought fresh catalysts for stocks to add to a five-week rally sparked by the central bank action, recovering oil prices and encouraging economic data.

Crude prices rose slightly, even as uncertainty remains about major exporters reaching an agreement to freeze production and signs of US producers increasing drilling activity.

The US Federal Reserve's accommodative move last week to cut the number of expected rate hikes this year to two was the latest among a slew of measures by central banks to support growth and calm the turmoil in global financial markets.

The S&P 500 on Friday turned positive for the first time in 2016, closing up 0.25 per cent, recovering from a more than 10 per cent fall earlier in the year. "While ... there's no obvious profit driver out there, we haven't gotten any news to derail the rally we've had since the Feb 11 lows," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.

At 9:38 a.m. ET (9:39pm Singapore time), the Dow Jones industrial average was down 10.62 points, or 0.06 percent, at 17,591.68, the S&P 500 was down 1.44 points, or 0.07 per cent, at 2,048.14 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 1.25 points, or 0.03 per cent, at 4,796.90.

The S&P energy sector was down 0.74 per cent, while financials led the gainers, rising 0.22 per cent.

Investors will now look for signs that the US economy continues to recover, with expectations for corporate earnings improving and commodity prices edging up, even as weak global conditions casts a pall on sentiment.

Data on Monday includes US existing home sales, which are expected to have dropped 2.2 per cent in February. The report is due at 10am ET (1400 GMT).