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Aug 28, 2012, 09.36 PM IST
US stocks held close to the flat line in yet another lightly traded session on Tuesday as mixed data gave investors little indication of whether Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke might signal another round of stimulus later in the week.
Bernanke is speaking on Friday at a conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and market participants are waiting to see whether he will announce new measures to boost economic growth. He is expected to sustain expectations for a third round of quantitative easing, though he could keep markets guessing about the timing of such an action.
Expectations for more stimulus measures have risen alongside signs of slowing growth. Japan's government just cut its economic assessment, citing a deceleration in the U.S. and China.
U.S. consumer confidence unexpectedly weakened in August to its lowest in nine months as Americans turned more pessimistic about the short-term outlook, according to the Conference Board while the S&P/Case Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas showed U.S. home prices rose for the fifth consecutive month.
"A mixed bag of economic indicators that sort of point downward; we are all hopeful this leaves some room for the Fed to shower money on us," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer, Harris Private Bank in Chicago.
"Unfortunately a fair amount of stimulus is probably priced in so we are at a period now where bad news is good news until we hear what (Bernanke) is actually going to do.
The Dow Jones industrial average shed 10.05 points, or 0.08 percent, to 13,114.62. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost 1.41 points, or 0.10 percent, to 1,409.03. The Nasdaq Composite Index dipped 2.52 points, or 0.08 percent, to 3,070.67.
The S&P 500 has been mired in a fairly tight range over the last three weeks, finding a support level at 1,400 while also unable to convincingly pierce the April high of 1,422.38, which has acted as a resistance point. The index has been unable to muster a move of at least 1 percent in either direction since August 3.
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