* S&P 500 coming off two-day rally, near record close
* KB Home rallies after results, Adobe Systems falls
* Investors don't expect curveballs in Fed statement
* Dow up 0.1 pct; S&P 500 up 0.1 pct; Nasdaq off 0.1 pct
(Updates to early afternoon, changes byline)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, March 19 U.S. stocks barely budged on
Wednesday as investors paused after a two-day rally and looked
ahead to comments from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
The S&P 500 was within 1 percent of its intraday record
high, though a drop in Adobe Systems shares weighed on
the tech sector, and economic bellwether FedEx Corp hit
a sour note in its outlook. Geopolitical concerns related to
Ukraine also stayed in focus.
Adobe's stock fell 2.3 percent to $66.96 and was the S&P
500's worst performer a day after the maker of Photoshop and
Acrobat software reported first-quarter earnings. FedEx posted
results below expectations and gave a weak full-year profit
forecast, but the package shipper said it had been significantly
hurt by winter storms, and the stock slipped 0.3 percent to
"Investors have to ask, with the market at record highs, are
they willing to shake off subpar earnings in the face of
potential geopolitical events unfolding? So far they're unfazed
and relatively calm going into the Fed, but it won't take much
to create some concern," said Michael O'Rourke, chief market
strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut.
The Fed is not expected to deviate from its path when it
announces its policy decision in a statement at 2 p.m. (1800
GMT), but market participants will be attuned to the subsequent
news conference from Janet Yellen, her first as chair, for any
clue on the speed of future stimulus cuts, as well as how soon
interest rates might be raised.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 10.17 points or
0.06 percent, to 16,346.36. The S&P 500 gained 1.23
points or 0.07 percent, to 1,873.48. But the Nasdaq Composite
dropped 2.217 points or 0.05 percent, to 4,331.096.
Equities have rallied this week, buoyed by easing
geopolitical concerns, though trading volume has been light. The
S&P 500 has climbed 1.7 percent over the past two days,
the best back-to-back performance for the benchmark index since
Ukraine's acting defense minister said the country's forces
would not withdraw from Crimea after the region voted to join
Russia in a disputed referendum.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a treaty to make
Crimea part of Russia. While no violence was reported as
pro-Russian forces took control of part of a Ukraine naval base,
investors are concerned that tensions in the region could
In earnings news, KB Home shares jumped 7.5 percent
to $19 after swinging to a first-quarter profit from a year-ago
loss, helped by higher prices. Oracle Corp shares
rebounded from early declines to edge up 0.1 percent to $38.87.
Late Tuesday, the company posted third-quarter earnings.
First Solar Inc surged 17 percent to $67.24 and
ranked as the S&P 500's best performer after the company gave
its outlook for 2014 and 2015.
(Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Jan