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Wall Street little changed ahead of Greek deal talks

Wall Street little changed ahead of Greek deal talks

US stocks were little changed on Wednesday, a day after the S&P 500 reached its highest level of the year and ahead of a meeting of euro zone finance ministers to discuss plans for Greece’s debt.

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis headed for a showdown with euro zone finance ministers to deal with the nation’s debt crisis at a meeting scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m. (1630 GMT) after his new leftist-led government won a parliamentary confidence vote for its refusal to extend an international bailout.

“It looks like we are kind of hanging in and waiting to see if there are any fireworks,” said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois.

“The way these things have always gone is they play out until the very last second and then the sides come together. My understanding is the very last second is the end of the month so I don’t know why anybody is even thinking something is going to be struck here.”

The benchmark S&P index rose more than 1 percent on Tuesday on hopes negotiations would result in a deal that could help stabilize the euro zone. The index is down 1.2 percent from its latest record high on Dec. 29.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 6.62 points, or 0.04 percent, to 17,862.14, the S&P 500 lost 0.06 points to 2,068.53 and the Nasdaq Composite added 13.54 points, or 0.28 percent, to 4,801.18.

PepsiCo rose 1.4 percent to USD 99.41 after the maker of soft drinks and Tropicana beverages reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit and said it would buy back shares worth up to USD 12 billion by 2018.

Despite some high-profile earnings misses from large multinational companies, largely as a result of dollar strength, Thomson Reuters data through Tuesday morning showed 72.7 percent of the 341 S&P 500 components that have reported earnings topped expectations, above the 69 percent beat rate in the past four quarters.

Apple Inc will buy about USD 850 million of power from a First Solar plant in California to cut its energy bill and power the company’s campus, offices and stores in the state. Apple shares rose 1.1 percent to USD 123.36 while First Solar added 1.5 percent to USD 49.30.

Rite Aid jumped 9.9 percent to USD 8.33. The drugstore operator said it would buy privately-held pharmacy benefit manager EnvisionRx for about USD 2 billion.

Pier 1 Imports plunged 30.3 percent to USD 11.83 after the furniture retailer cut its 2015 profit forecast, citing weak January and February sales.

After the closing bell, earnings are expected from Applied Materials, Cisco Systems, TripAdvisor and Whole Foods Market.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,535 to 1,180, for a 1.30-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,112 issues fell and 1,062 advanced, a 1.05-to-1 ratio.

The S&P 500 posted 23 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 31 new highs and 14 new lows.

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