US STOCKS-Wall St lower in muted trading on uncertainty about Fed

Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:12pm EST

* District Fed presidents Kocherlakota, Lockhart due to speak

* DISH Network shares up after quarterly results

* Indexes off: Dow 0.4 pct; S&P 0.4 pct; Nasdaq 0.2 pct

By Luke Swiderski

NEW YORK, Nov 12 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks eased on Tuesday before remarks by key Federal Reserve officials, which investors will scrutinize for hints when the U.S. central bank might start curtailing its stimulus program.

The S&P 500 has risen more than 24 percent this year, driven by stronger-than-expected earnings and the Fed's accommodative monetary policy to bolster the economy. Some investors have begun to doubt the Fed will wait until March to cut back the easing after strong economic data, causing stocks to pause in a record-breaking rally.

Still, the tendency of markets to perform well in the past two months has some "people saying, 'Hey, you gotta ride the bull until the end of the year,'" said Michael Matousek, head trader at U.S. Global Investors Inc. in San Antonio.

News Corp shares fell 2.3 percent to $17.03 a day after the company reported a steeper-than-expected 3 percent decline in revenue in its first quarter as a standalone company, as weakness at its Australian newspapers took a toll.

Sarepta Therapeutics was one of the day's biggest losers, falling 61 percent to $14.32 a share after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said the company's drug to treat a rare muscle disorder needed further testing. It was one of the Nasdaq's most active stocks.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 64.35 points, or 0.41 percent, at 15,718.75. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 7.42 points, or 0.42 percent, at 1,764.47. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 7.98 points, or 0.20 percent, at 3,911.82.

On Monday, the Dow index posted its 35th record close of the year while the S&P 500 came close to ending at a record high. The Nasdaq index ended flat.

Investors will look to Fed speakers for guidance later in the day. Minneapolis Fed Bank President Narayana Kocherlakota is scheduled to speak in Minnesota at 1 p.m. (1800 GMT) and Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart is due to talk at the same time in Alabama.

Earlier, Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher said in an interview with CNBC cable television the Federal Reserve's monetary stimulus program cannot continue forever.

Dish Network Corp posted quarterly results that beat Wall Street estimates as it added 35,000 pay-TV subscribers, far exceeding expectations. The stock rose 4.1 percent to $49.50.

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