US STOCKS-Wall St little changed, investors wary on policy path

Fri Jun 14, 2013 10:19am EDT

* Investors eye FOMC meeting next week

* Producer prices rise more than expected

* Consumer sentiment falls

* Elan climbs on news it is up for sale

* Groupon jumps after Deutsche Bank raises rating

* Dow up 0.2 pct, S&P up 0.2 pct, Nasdaq flat

By Leah Schnurr

NEW YORK, June 14 (Reuters) - Wall Street was little changed on Friday as investors were kept on their heels by uncertainty over how soon central banks will rein in the stimulus programs that have fueled an equity market rally this year.

Jitters over the longevity of monetary policy around the world has roiled markets recently and nerves were stretched further this week when the Bank of Japan held policy steady.

The prospect that the accommodative stance of central banks - particularly the Federal Reserve - could be pulled back sooner than expected has prompted traders to rethink bets that were built around that support.

"The market had some pretty strong trends in place, and to the extent that the Fed might interrupt some of those trends is causing a lot of consternation," said Cam Albright, director of asset allocation at Wilmington Trust Investment Advisors in Wilmington, Delaware.

Attention is now focused on the Fed's policy-setting meeting next week after comments from Chairman Ben Bernanke last month raised concerns the Fed could cool its stimulus efforts in the near term.

"What we're not sure about is whether Bernanke was sending up a bit of a trial balloon or if he's really serious that they think they're going to make a policy move some time this year," said Albright.

Economic data released Friday did little to provide equity markets with direction; producer prices rose more than expected in May, but industrial output was flat. Consumer sentiment slipped in the first half of June.

The Dow Jones industrial average added 22.89 points, or 0.15 percent, to 15,198.97. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index edged up 3.74 points, or 0.23 percent, at 1,640.10. The Nasdaq Composite Index was off 0.20 points, or 0.01 percent, to 3,445.17.

U.S.-listed shares of Elan jumped 8.6 percent to $13.70 after the Irish drug company said it would be put up for sale.

Smith & Wesson Holding Corp's shares rose after the gun maker raised its outlook for the fourth quarter. The stock was up 5.6 percent at $9.82.

Groupon shot up 13.4 percent at $7.78 after Deutsche Bank raised its rating to "buy" from "hold", according to Benzinga.com.

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