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Wall Street: Stocks flat in midday trading Monday

U.S. stocks fluctuated at midday Monday, following the first weekly advance this year for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, as gains in energy companies offset a drop in technology shares as investors considered possible fallout from Greek elections.

The S&P 500 added 0.1 percent to 2,054.06 at 12:16 p.m. in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1.68 points, or less than 0.1 percent,to 17,670.92. Trading in S&P 500 companies was 4.8 percent below the 30-day average at this time of day.

In New York, officials told residents to stay at home as a blizzard forecasters call “life-threatening” may dump as much as two feet of snow from New York to Boston. The New York Stock Exchange plans to operate on a normal schedule Monday and Tuesday, the company said in an e-mail. The last time NYSE’s trading hours were changed because of a snowstorm was on Jan. 8, 1996, according to the exchange’s website.

“We’re sort of at an inflection point in the market,” Bill Schultz, who oversees $1.2 billion as chief investment officer at McQueen, Ball & Associates in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, said in a phone interview. “It needs more to get it moving to higher levels. It’s just trying to digest all of this information and try to make heads or tails of it. You saw the Greek election although that was not a big surprise.”

The S&P 500 rallied 1.6 percent last week after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said it plans to buy up to 1.14 trillion euros ($1.28 trillion) of private and public securities.

European equities rose and the region’s shared currency strengthened, while Greek stocks retreated, after Syriza, whose leader has pledged to renegotiate the nation’s international bailout, won 149 out of a possible 300 seats in Parliament. Prime Minister-elect Alexis Tsipras’ mandate is now to confront the nation’s program of austerity, imposed in return for pledges of 240 billion euros in aid since May 2010.

The Greek elections “infused a little bit more risk into the market,” Michael James, a Los Angeles-based managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities Inc., said in a phone interview. “More people are focusing on a pretty busy earnings calendar this week and the Fed commentary on Wednesday. Those are going to be the much bigger focus for traders than the situation in Greece.”

Federal Reserve officials are scheduled to begin a two-day policy meeting tomorrow. The central bank is trying to determine whether declining oil prices, a slowdown in European growth and any fallout from the Greek elections will threaten the U.S. recovery as it considers raising interest rates. Chair Janet Yellen told reporters after the last meeting not to expect higher borrowing costs before the end of April.

Investors are also watching earnings reports. Microsoft Corp. is among those releasing quarterly results Monday. United Technologies Corp. changed its plans and will release results after the close of trading today instead of tomorrow morning.

Mattel Inc. retreated 3.3 percent after the maker of Barbie dolls said it replaced Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bryan Stockton amid a five quarter sales slump and holiday- season earnings that trailed analysts’ estimates.