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S&P 500 ends little changed as investors weigh elevated yields

Kitco News

Sept 27 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 ended little changed on Wednesday, in a see-saw session, as investors weighed whether to start bargain hunting after a sell-off fueled by elevated Treasury yields and uncertainty about the path ahead for interest rates.

Investors were also attuned to developments in Washington as divisions among U.S. lawmakers put the federal government at risk of a partial shutdown by the weekend.

A possible shutdown has added to worries for stock investors as they grapple with benchmark Treasury yields that have climbed to 16-year highs after the Federal Reserve last week signaled a hawkish long-term path for interest rates.

At the same time, as the S&P 500 has sharply pared its year-to-date gain, some investors are wondering if the market is close to a bottom.

"At some point people will start to buy stocks for the fourth quarter, and the third-quarter selling might be almost done," said Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel.

"At a certain level, people are going to get back in thinking the fourth quarter might be a pretty good one."

According to preliminary data, the S&P 500 (.SPX) gained 1.10 points, or 0.04%, to end at 4,275.29 points, while the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) gained 29.24 points, or 0.22%, to 13,092.85. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) fell 61.79 points, or 0.20%, to 33,550.80.

Among S&P 500 sectors, the rate-sensitive utilities group (.SPLRCU) fell sharply. Energy (.SPNY) rose, as Brent crude breached $97 a barrel, with the jump in oil prices posing a renewed threat to inflation that has been moderating.

"Investors are looking for a turning point," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley Wealth. "Clearly, it is not going to take much of a breath of fresh air in this market for people to chase this."

In Washington, Republican U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy rejected a stopgap funding bill advancing in the Senate, bringing the government closer to its fourth partial shutdown in a decade.

Data on Wednesday showed orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods rose in August while business spending on equipment appeared to regain momentum after faltering early in the third quarter.

Investors are focusing on Friday's monthly personal consumption expenditures price index for a fresh view of inflation. This week also brings second-quarter Gross Domestic Product and remarks from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.

In company news, Costco Wholesale (COST.O) shares rose after the retailer topped market estimates for quarterly revenue and profit.

Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf in New York, Ankika Biswas, Shashwat Chauhan and Amruta Khandekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Richard Chang

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