* Intel advances as S&P’s top gainer, Apple also higher
* Saks posts second-quarter loss, sales weak
* JPMorgan falls on investigation, financials lower
* Dow, S&P down less than 0.1 pct; Nasdaq up 0.2 pct
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Aug 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were mostly flat on Monday with investors reluctant to make large bets ahead of an expected change in Federal Reserve stimulus policy, though a rally in large-cap tech shares lifted the Nasdaq.
The Fed is expected to begin slowing its accommodative monetary policy, which has been credited with fueling the market’s steep gains in 2013, at its September policy meeting. With little expected this week in the way of economic indicators, market participants are focused on the minutes of the latest Fed meeting, expected on Wednesday.
Growing concerns about a pullback in the program contributed to the Dow posting its largest weekly drop in more than a year last week, and could also be felt in other markets. The U.S. benchmark 10-year yield recently rose to a two-year high.
Trading volume has been light in recent sessions, as uncertainty over the Fed and few catalysts kept investors to the sidelines. The S&P 500 has moved in a range of about 3.5 percent over the past month.
“Short-term momentum continues to be to the upside, but the low volume suggests there’s little conviction that could take us up out of the range we’ve been in,” said Andres Garcia-Amaya, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds in New York.
“The September meeting is the next big catalyst, and until then there’s nothing that should significantly move the needle.”
Tech shares were the strongest of the day, jumping 0.8 percent. Apple Inc was one of the strongest, up 2.2 percent to $513.28.
Intel Corp rose 3.2 percent to $22.60 as the biggest percentage gainer on the S&P. Piper Jaffray upgraded the Dow component to “neutral” from “underweight” and boosted its price target on the stock.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 4.17 points, or 0.03 percent, at 15,085.64. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 0.76 points, or 0.05 percent, at 1,656.59. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 18.80 points, or 0.52 percent, at 3,621.58. On the downside, financial shares were weaker, dropping 0.7 percent.
JPMorgan Chase & Co fell 1.8 percent to $52.33 after a federal bribery investigation into whether the bank hired the children of key Chinese officials to help it win business.
Bank of America Corp fell 1.1 percent to $14.26 while Citigroup Inc lost 1.4 percent to $49.64.
Saks Inc reported a second-quarter loss and same-store sales that were below expectations. The company’s stock was unchanged at $16.02 as the company is in the process of being acquired by Hudson’s Bay for $16 per share.
Zillow shares fell 4.8 percent to $86.88 after the company announced a stock offering and said it agreed to buy New York real estate website StreetEasy for $50 million.
Supernus Pharmaceuticals jumped 20.5 percent to $8 after the company said it will soon launch an epilepsy drug after having received final approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.