The S&P 500 index and the Dow were slightly lower on Wednesday as investors awaited a key report by the Federal Reserve to gauge the health of the U.S. economy.
However, gains in technology and healthcare stocks prevented the Nasdaq from slipping into negative territory. Facebook (FB.O) rose as much 1.7 percent to a record high, giving the index its biggest boost.
Retrophin (RTRX.O) soared 40 percent after the company said its drug to treat a kidney disorder met the main goal of a mid-stage study. The stock was the top percentage gainer on the Nasdaq.
The Federal Reserve is scheduled to release its Beige Book – a summary of commentary on economic conditions – at 2:00 p.m. ET (1800 GMT).
“We’ve had very quiet market activity for a couple of months … And a lot of uncertainty on policy,” said Tim Courtney, chief investment officer at Exencial Wealth Advisors.
Investors will wait until they get more clarity on presidential elections, the quality of third-quarter earnings and the timing of the next rate hike, Courtney said.
While the Fed has been hinting at higher rates in the near-term, a recent set of weak economic data, including last week’s jobs numbers, have muddied the outlook.
U.S. markets have been trading in a tight range in the past few months, with the S&P 500 not moving more than 1 percent in either direction on a daily basis since July 8.
At 11:10 a.m. ET (1510 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 35.3 points, or 0.19 percent, at 18,502.82. The S&P 500 .SPX was down 2.78 points, or 0.13 percent, at 2,183.7. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 1.37 points, or 0.03 percent, at 5,277.28, after touching a record intraday high.
Seven of the 10 major S&P 500 indexes were lower, with the consumer staples sector .SPLRCS falling the most by 0.78 percent. The typically defensive sector has risen 7.8 percent this year.
Apple (AAPL.O) shares were down 0.26 percent at $107.41. The biggest company by market value is expected to unveil the new iPhone 7 later on Wednesday.