NEW YORK, July 28 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks closed little changed on Monday, as investors were cautious ahead of the Federal Reserve 's policy meeting while awaiting U.S. economic data in a very busy week.
The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average went up 22.02 points, or 0.13 percent, to 16,982.59. The S&P 500 rose 0.57 point, or 0. 03 percent, to 1,978.91. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 4.65 points, or 0.10 percent, to 4,444.91.
The market opened lower as investor sentiment was continuously dampened by the lingering geopolitical unrest in Ukraine as the European Union is planning new sanctions this week against Russia for the latter's alleged role in the Ukraine crisis. Meanwhile, Israeli military offensive resumed on the Gaza Strip on Sunday after a temporary ceasefire with Hamas collapsed.
Major stock indices swung after mixed economic data came out in the morning. The U.S. service sector growth remained at a post- recession high in July, with the seasonally-adjusted Markit Flash U.S. Services Purchasing Managers' Index hitting 61.0, but new business and employment both expanded at slower paces, said financial data firm Markit on Monday.
Meanwhile, after three consecutive months of solid gains, U.S. pending home sales unexpectedly slipped in June, according to the National Association of Realtors. The forward-looking indicator based on contract signings declined 1.1 percent to 102.7 in June from the prior month, missing market estimates of a 0.3- percent increase.
However, Wall Street regained steam somewhat in the afternoon session from early losses, as investors seemed to be a little complacent looking to a slew of key economic data and corporate earnings as well as the Fed's meeting.
The Commerce Department on Wednesday will publish its preliminary estimate of the U.S. economic growth in the second quarter. Bank of America Merrill Lynch economists expected a 3.5- percent bounce in the second-quarter GDP, which would be a marked improvement from the 2.9-percent contraction in the first quarter due to inclement winter weather.
Investors will also pay close attention to the U.S. nonfarm payroll report for July, scheduled for release on Friday by the U. S. Labor Department. Bank of America Merrill Lynch economists expected the nonfarm payroll to increase by 250,000 in July, a minor slowdown from the three-month average of 272,000, and the jobless rate to stay at 6.1 percent.
The U.S. central bank will hold its two-day policy meeting starting on Tuesday. While most analysts expected the meeting to be rather uneventful, with another 10-billion-dollar reduction of the Fed asset purchases, they will try to garner any clue on the conditions that would warrant the first rate hike.
The corporate earnings calendar remains busy this week. A string of Dow components, such as Exxon Mobil, Pfizer and Procter & Gamble, will release quarterly results this week.
The CBOE Volatility Index, often referred to as Wall Street's fear gauge, dipped 1.02 percent to end at 12.56 Monday, well below the long term average of 20.
In other markets, the dollar retreated against most major currencies as investors await the Fed's policy meeting and the U.S. growth data.
In late New York trading, the euro rose to 1.3434 dollars from 1.3433 dollars in the previous session, while the dollar bought 101.87 Japanese yen, higher than 101.80 yen of the previous session.
Crude prices fell as traders shrugged off geopolitical concerns over Ukraine and the Middle East.
Light, sweet crude for September delivery moved down 42 cents to settle at 101.67 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), while Brent crude for September delivery lost 82 cents to close at 107.57 dollars a barrel.
Gold futures on the COMEX division of the NYMEX were unchanged despite geopolitical tension and U.S. equities weakness. The most active gold contract for August delivery settled at 1,303.3 dollars per ounce.