(Bloomberg) — U.S. stocks fluctuated as investors weighed stronger-than-forecast gains in consumer prices and new-home sales for clues on when the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates.
Consumer staples extended gains to a third day as spice-maker McCormick & Co. climbed more than 4 percent. Raw-material companies fell after copper producer Freeport-McMoRan Inc. cut its dividend.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose less than 0.1 percent to 2,105.77. at 10:06 a.m. in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 13.38 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,129.42.
“The market is looking for new direction, but it hasn’t seen it yet,” Bill Schultz, who oversees $1.2 billion as chief investment officer at McQueen, Ball & Associates in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, said in a phone interview. “That’s why we’re churning and trading in a pretty narrow range. The Fed looked like it was going to be more aggressive, but now seems to be less so.”
The cost of living in the U.S. excluding food and fuel rose more than forecast in February, reflecting broad-based gains that helped keep a floor under inflation.