Stocks drift as investors ponder end of stimulus

December 4, 2013
In this Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, photo, specialist James Sciulli works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. World stock markets put in a patchy performance Wednesday Dec. 4, 2013, with Japan suffering a sharp fall, as investors continued to worry the U.S. Federal Reserve will soon start reducing its monetary stimulus. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are little changed on Wall Street as investors pore over the latest economic reports for clues about when the Federal Reserve will start pulling back on its huge stimulus program.

Major U.S. indexes fell, rose, then slipped back again by midday.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 18 points, or 0.1 percent, to 15,896 at noon Eastern.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down two points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,793. The Nasdaq composite fell a point to 4,035.

Conflicting news about the economy left investors unsure about when the Fed will reduce its monthly bond purchases, which have been supporting financial markets. The Fed's next policy meeting is in two weeks.

Sears slumped after the company's CEO cut his stake in the company.