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Stocks Close Little Changed

"We should see a shift from eyeing crude and energy prices to watching bonds," said Marc Pado, U.S. market strategist with Cantor Fitzgerald. "While very few expect the Fed to hike rates at this meeting, the language could be a little more hawkish than some are anticipating. The strength in housing and some solid economic numbers have taken away any need to ease rates anytime soon."

Yields on Treasuries rose. The 10-year was down 4/32 in price to yield 4.89%, and the 30-year bond was off 10/32 and yielding 4.99%. The dollar was mixed against the world's other major currencies.

As for the day's earnings, Dow component Verizon (VZ) posted fourth-quarter profits of $1.03 billion, or 35 cents a share, falling from $1.67 billion, or 59 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. Excluding items, Verizon earned 62 cents a share, which beat the Thomson First Call average estimate by a penny. Verizon ended with a gain of 20 cents, or 0.5%, at $38.03.

Schering-Plough (SGP) was in line with estimates, and profits at Tesoro Petroleum (TSO) were stronger than expected. Toymaker Mattel (MAT) posted fourth-quarter earnings and revenue that easily topped forecasts.

Elsewhere, Symantec (SYMC) signed an agreement to acquire Altiris (ATRS) in an $830 million deal. Symantec was off 1.4% to close at $17.52, while Altiris surged 19.9% to $32.55.

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