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Published: Tue, August 23, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Asian stocks mixed ahead of Fed meeting


USA stocks opened slightly lower Monday, with investors taking a cue from a retreat by oil futures as they await a speech by Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen at the end of the week.

Oil major Exxon XOM.N and Chevron CVX.N fell about 0.8 percent and were among the top drags on the S&P 500 and the Dow. The Nasdaq Composite lost 8 points, or 0.1%, to trade at 5,230.

Some market bulls are taking a more cautious near-term stance in the wake of a rally that took al three major indexes to all-time highs last week.

The S&P 500 .SPX was down 7.87 points, or 0.36 percent, at 2,176.

The dollar strengthened and US Treasury yields hit a two-week high on Monday on expectations the Federal Reserve will give a signal this week that it is gearing up to raise interest rates.

The main event will be a Friday speech from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who could use this speech as an opportunity to signal a more or less aggressive policy stance from the Fed going forward.

"The markets now have March priced in for the next rate hike and if Yellen is seriously determined to move earlier, she must take advantage of Friday's opportunity to drive that message home". "The rest of the week is expected to be rather quiet", Erlam added.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming, site of the Fed's big economic conference.

Brent crude futures were trading at $49.94 per barrel at 0712 GMT, down $1.56, or 3.07 percent.

Crude futures have risen nearly $10 a barrel since early August on speculation that Saudi Arabia and other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will agree next month to a production freeze deal with non-OPEC producers led by Russian Federation.

On the earnings front, Nordson (NDSN) and Premier are among the corporates set to report on Monday.

Last week, the S&P 500 and Dow scored record closes early in the week, then finished the week little changed (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-stocks-poised-for-losses-as-fed-rate-hike-debate-rages-on-2016-08-19) and just below their record-setting levels.

Investor sentiment was earlier boosted by a couple of multi-billion dollar deals on Monday, including Pfizer's $14 billion acquisition of cancer drug maker Medivation.

Stocks showed a lack of direction throughout much of the trading session on Monday, extending the lackluster performance that was seen in the previous week.

In other deal news, ChemChina said Monday that a USA national-security regulator had cleared its planned $43 billion acquisition (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/chemchina-gets-us-security-clearance-for-43-billion-syngenta-takeover-2016-08-22) of Swiss seed company Syngenta AG (SYNN.EB)(SYNN.EB). (ATD.A.T) in a deal valued at $4.4 billion.

Chipmaker Intersil jumped 20.4 percent $18.83 after a source told Reuters that Japan's Renesas was in the final stages of negotiations to acquire the company for about $2.99 billion.

Ailing drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. (6723.TO) said it is in talks to buy the US company.

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