Wall Street finished little changed Monday as investors turned cautious ahead of the Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting, which starts...

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NEW YORK — Wall Street finished little changed Monday as investors turned cautious ahead of the Federal Reserve’s two-day policy meeting, which starts today.

Stocks fluctuated most of the morning before turning higher for much of the day. Stocks then pulled back modestly in the final minutes of trading.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 20.11 to 12,871.75.

Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, fell 84 cents to close at $28.99 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, rose 14 cents to $84.98.

Broader indexes were mixed. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped 1.47 to 1,396.37, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 1.47 to 2,424.40.

Investors appeared to be waiting for the Fed to make the next move. Policymakers are widely expected to cut interest rates by a quarter point Wednesday, then leave them steady for the balance of the year to help ward off inflation.

The session’s modest moves came despite one of the most active days for acquisitions in almost three months. The biggest deal was the offer by Warren Buffett and candy maker Mars to buy Wrigley for about $23 billion in cash. Meanwhile, billionaire Kirk Kerkorian plans to make an offer that would expand his stake in Ford to 5.6 percent, saying he sees signs the automaker’s turnaround plan is working.

This helped to offset disappointment in the market that struggling Continental Airlines said it would not pursue a combination with another carrier right away. It was a surprising move after weeks of speculation that it would join with United Airlines to create the world’s biggest carrier.

Continental Airlines shares fell 26 cents to $16.96 after the airline announced it wasn’t interested in completing a deal.

But investors appeared focused on the Fed.

“Investors are holding their breath for the Fed, and not even these high-profile deals are shaking people off of their hands,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank. “The direction of Fed policy hangs in the balance, and there are people like me that hope the central bank quits sooner rather than later.”

Bond prices edged higher after suffering big losses last week. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 3.83 percent from 3.87 percent late Friday.

Crude spiked to near $120 a barrel in overnight trading amid supply concerns, then gave up some gains to settle up 23 cents at $118.75 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices were higher.