North American stocks hugged their starting positions on Wednesday morning at the start of trading, ahead of a monetary policy statement from the U.S. Federal Reserve in the afternoon.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 3 points, to 10,290. The broader S&P 500 fell 1 point, to 1094. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index rose 1 point, to 11,799.
Some defensive stocks showed early gains, with Verizon Communications Inc. up 1.3 per cent, McDonald's Corp. up 0.4 per cent and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. up 0.4 per cent. However, blue-chip U.S. technology companies retreated: Microsoft Corp. fell 1.1 per cent and Intel Corp. fell 0.7 per cent.
Commodity stocks also looked relatively stable, even though the price of crude oil and gold dipped. Among energy stocks, Suncor Energy Inc. rose 0.1 per cent and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. rose 0.2 per cent. Crude oi fell to $76.11 (U.S.) a barrel, down $1.74.
Among gold producers, Barrick Gold Corp. fell 0.1 per cent and Goldcorp Inc. rose 0.4 per cent after the price of gold fell to $1233 an ounce, down $8.