Wall Street put the brakes on a recent rally, essentially going nowhere in advance of a Federal Reserve meeting that starts Tuesday.
Benchmark indexes hugged the flatline for much of the session before diverging slightly in the final hour. The S&P 500 was down 0.13%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.09% and Nasdaq climbed 1.8%.
The central bank's meeting will conclude with a statement and press conference set for Wednesday afternoon. The majority of economists don't expect the Fed to increase interest rates at this meeting after raising them in December for the first time since they were reduced to nearly zero during the 2008 financial crisis.
What will be more important, however, is how the Fed frames its future plans. Members had previously forecast four rate hikes this year at the end of 2015, but that looks less likely after a string of disappointing manufacturing data in the first quarter.
"Equities are in pause mode and will continue to be in this manner through the Fed meeting and even into early April when companies begin reporting first-quarter results," Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank, told TheStreet. "Now we await the Fed's assessment of the pace at which the economy may be growing and to a degree when they may begin further tightening. In our view, equities are likely to remain in somewhat of a trading range over the next month."
It's a busy week of monetary policy elsewhere. The Bank of Japan will meet on Tuesday and the Bank of England will meet on Thursday. The European Central Bank opted to cut rates further and expand its bond-buying program last week.