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U.S. stocks close flat as oil prices slide

A bear and bull statuary express the state

A bear and bull statuary express the state of investing worldwide. The art pieces are outside the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, on Monday, March 14, 2016. Credit: Bloomberg News / Martin Leissl

U.S. markets closed very close where they began after mostly recovering from an early dip Monday.

THE NUMBERS: At the close on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 15.8 points, about 0.1 percent, at 17,229.1. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was off 2.6 points, about 0.1 percent, at 2,019.6. The Nasdaq composite gained 1.8 points, about 0.04 percent, to 4,750.3.

CRUDE ENERGY: About the same time U.S. benchmark crude was down $1.23, about 3.2 percent, at $37.27 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, the international benchmark, Brent crude, was down 83 cents, about 2.1 percent, at $39.56 a barrel.

FED WATCH: The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee wraps up a two-day meeting on Wednesday and investors will be watching to see whether policymakers are leaning toward an interest rate hike at the next major meeting in June.

ANALYST VIEWPOINT: “In recent weeks we have seen some encouraging data for the U.S. economy that are likely to have bolstered the Fed’s confidence,” said Jane Foley, strategist at Rabobank. “At the same time, not all the doves are convinced and they would like to see more evidence of inflation moving back toward the 2 percent target. This suggests that we should not expect a Fed rate hike this week, but we may see a consensus forming by the June meeting.”

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