* Wall Street struggles for direction, volume low
* Apple shares continue to climb after Icahn tweet
* Deere shares turn lower after results, Macy's drops
* Indexes down: Dow 0.3 pct, S&P 0.1 pct, Nasdaq 0.1 pct
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Aug 14 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were slightly lower
on Wednesday as investors found few reasons to make big bets,
with equities near all-time highs and little clarity over
Federal Reserve policy.
Apple Inc was one of the biggest gainers of the
day, rising 1.7 percent to $498.28 to extend a rally that began
Tuesday after activist investor Carl Icahn tweeted that he had
built a "large position" in the tech company. However, those
gains didn't translate to a broader advance.
Wall Street has struggled for direction recently, with the
S&P 500 trading in a narrow range over the past month. During
that period, the index has only closed once with a move greater
than 1 percent.
Trading volume has been among the lowest of the year, as
earnings season winds down and economic indicators present a
mixed view of economic growth. Currently, the S&P is less than 1
percent away from its all-time high.
On Tuesday, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said the
U.S. central bank could begin to slow its quantitative easing
(QE) stimulus as early as next month, though data has been too
mixed to outline a detailed exit strategy.
"Investors are still trying to assess the Fed and what it
will do next, leaving us to bounce around on a daily basis but
essentially go nowhere," said Paul Nolte, managing director at
Dearborn Partners in Chicago. "Things should be quiet until we
get more clarity on that end.
Equities have been tethered to Fed policy for much of the
year, and many investors are worried that economic growth may
lose momentum without the Fed's bond-buying intervention. Many
traders are awaiting clarity on when the program could begin to
slow before adjusting positions.
Producer prices were flat in July, below expectations for a
0.3 percent increase. The data could add to worries at the Fed
that inflation is too low, but stocks were little impacted by
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 50.10
points, or 0.32 percent, at 15,400.91. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index was down 2.14 points, or 0.13 percent, at 1,692.02.
The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 3.79 points, or 0.10
percent, at 3,680.66.
Stocks have trended lower recently, with the S&P down for
five of the past seven sessions. For the year, it remains up
almost 19 percent.
Cisco Systems weighed on the Dow, falling 1 percent
to $26.06. The company is scheduled to report its quarterly
results after the market closes.
Deere & Co fell 1.3 percent to $82.92, even as its
third-quarter earnings and sales beat expectations. The stock
had advanced in premarket trading.
Shares of Macy's Inc fell 3.8 percent to $46.65 after
the company reported its results and cut its full-year profit
Steinway Musical Instruments Inc jumped 5.6 percent
to $40.43 after it agreed to be taken private by Paulson & Co
for $40 a share.
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co rose 1.7 percent to $19.54
a day after the company said one of its largest investors had
raised its stake in the company by 44 percent.
European shares rose 0.4 percent, extending a
seven-week rally after data showed France pulled out of
recession in the second quarter, while Germany posted its
largest expansion in more than a year.