US STOCKS-Wall St little changed as rally loses steam
* Investor focus turns to economic data after central bank rally
* Homebuilder sentiment rises to six-year high
* FedEx dips after lowering profit outlook
* AMD shares drop as CFO to leave
* Indexes: Dow up 0.06 pct, S&P off 0.1 pct, Nasdaq off 0.04 pct
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Wall Street stocks were little changed on Tuesday as investors looked to economic data this week for direction after a rally that was driven primarily by central banks' stimulus policies.
U.S. stocks have rallied nearly 6 percent since the start of August, propelling the S&P 500 index to the highest in nearly five years as central banks in Europe and the United States acted to prop up flagging economies. But analysts say that for the rally to continue economic data needs to improve.
"Economic data is where the immediate focus is going to be but remember we are almost at the end of the quarter here. It is a quarter where there is some concern about earnings and the economic recovery going forward, at least in the near-term," said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Group in Bedford Hills, New York.
FedEx Corp cut its profit forecast for its fiscal year 2013, saying that a weakening world economy had prompted customers to shift toward lower-priced shipping. The shares fell 2 percent to $87.49 and the Dow Jones transportation average lost 1 percent.
The lowered FedEx forecast "does point to continuing issues in the global economy. It's certainly a concern," said Ghriskey.
Shares in Apple Inc set another all-time high of $701.44 before retreating to a 0.02 percent rise at $699.90 after the company broke sales records with its new smartphone.
Aside from more economic reports on housing this week, investors will get readings on manufacturing. The Philadelphia Federal Reserve's survey of activity in the mid-Atlantic region as well as the Markit manufacturing purchasing manager's index for September are due on Thursday.
Data on Monday showed factory activity in New York state fell to its lowest level in nearly 3-1/2 years.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 8.26 points, or 0.06 percent, to 13,561.36. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index dropped 1.48 points, or 0.10 percent, to 1,459.71. The Nasdaq Composite Index shed 1.22 points, or 0.04 percent, to 3,177.46.
U.S. homebuilder sentiment rose for the fifth month in a row in September to its highest level in over six years in a fresh sign of momentum for the housing market, a report from the National Association of Home Builders showed. The PHLX housing sector index slipped 0.2 percent.
Advanced Micro Devices Inc shares fell 7.5 percent to $3.71 after the firm said its chief financial officer was leaving the struggling personal computer chipmaker. The stock was the biggest percentage decliner on the PHLX semiconductor index, which lost 0.3 percent.
Dole Food Company Inc will sell two businesses to Itochu Corp for $1.7 billion in cash - a deal that will help the world's largest fruit and vegetable producer pay down its heavy debt load while expanding Itochu's food presence in new markets such as China. Dole's shares rose 1.2 percent to $13.86.
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