US STOCKS-Wall Street stalls ahead of Fed, elections

* Investors stand pat ahead of Fed, elections

* 3M cuts outlook and weighs on industrials

* Halliburton drops on White House panel finding

* Dow off 0.1 pct, S&P up 0.1 pct, Nasdaq up 0.2 pct
* For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US]
(Updates to close)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Oct 28 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. stocks (Read more about the stock market today. ) ended little
changed on Thursday as cautious investors pulled back before
expected upheaval from next week’s elections and a likely
announcement of more stimulus from the Federal Reserve.

Next week could bring significant shifts in both monetary
policy and legislative direction, leading investors to largely
disregard earnings and economic reports.

A notable exception was manufacturer 3M Co (MMM.N: ), which
dropped 5.9 percent to $85.07 and pulled the Dow lower after it
trimmed its outlook due to costs from recent acquisitions. For
details, see [ID:nN25282000].

“Perhaps this is going to be a ‘buy the rumor, sell the
news’ kind of deal where we have had the rally in anticipation
of all these things,” said Phil Orlando, chief equity market
strategist at Federated Investors, referring to the Fed and
Tuesday’s elections.

“Now that we are about to cross the threshold, maybe we are
getting a little toppy here and we need to consolidate some of
those gains.”

A look at broad market exchange-traded funds suggested
investors were becoming more cautious. Premiums for November
out-of-the-money puts outweighed equally spaced call contracts
for most instruments.

Overall U.S. put volume rose 21.3 percent on Wednesday
while the CBOE Volatility Index (.VIX: ) rose for the fourth
consecutive session.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: ) dropped 12.33
points, or 0.11 percent, to 11,113.95. The Standard & Poor’s
500 Index (.SPX: ) gained 1.33 points, or 0.11 percent, to
1,183.78. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: ) added 4.11 points,
or 0.16 percent, to 2,507.37.

Closing was delayed for 58 NYSE stocks following a hardware
recovery.

Halliburton Co (HAL.N: ) tumbled 8 percent to $31.68 after a
White House panel said the contractor, which cemented the
blown-out Macondo well, ignored cement design flaws weeks
before the disaster that sparked the worst U.S. offshore oil
spill. [ID:nN28101677]

Thursday’s session also brought about a weakening in the
recent inverse correlation between stocks and the dollar for
the second time this week, as stocks slipped while the dollar
index (.DXY: ) shed 1.1 percent against major currencies.

Stocks received an early boost from the weak dollar and
after data showed new weekly claims for unemployment benefits
fell unexpectedly, giving an encouraging reading on the labor
market. [ID:nN28118907] [ID:nLDE69R17T].

Anticipation of a Fed move has driven recent market action
as investors speculated over the size and timing of further
stimulus. Equity investors have bet that more easing will
invigorate an economic recovery and lift asset prices. Since
September, the S&P 500 has risen 12.8 percent.

Most leading economists expected the Fed to buy between $80
billion and $100 billion in assets per month under a new
program to bolster the struggling economy, a Reuters poll
found. [ID:nNLLRLE6LL]

Volume was light, with about 7.4 billion shares traded on
the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and
Nasdaq, below last year’s estimated daily average of 9.65
billion.

Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by
1,498 to 1,442, while on the Nasdaq, decliners beat advancers
by about four to three.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

US STOCKS-Wall Street stalls ahead of Fed, elections