NEW YORK, Sept 17 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed at midday on Wednesday, ahead of a key statement by the Federal Reserve which investors hope will provide insight into the next monetary policy move by the U.S. central bank.
The materials sector was a bright spot, with DuPont up 4.5 percent at $68.78 after activist investor Nelson Peltz's Trian Fund Management, among the biggest shareholders in the company, urged it to separate its high-growth businesses from those with strong cash flows.
The broader market was focused on the Fed as it concludes a two-day policy meeting. It is expected to provide indications on how soon it may lift interest rates as it prepares for a shift in stance after years of near-zero interest rates and aggressive stimulus. Many investors are focused on whether the Fed will remove the phrasing in its pledge to keep rates intact for a "considerable time."
"We are going to find out today, this is a little bit of an unknown quantity, how dovish Janet Yellen really is - because if you are truly going to live up to your dovish credentials, you are not going to do diddly," said Stephen Massocca, managing director at Wedbush Equity Management LLC in San Francisco.
"I don't think policy is going to change, but perception could and that is important to the market."
The Dow Jones industrial average was rising 7.74 points, or 0.05 percent, to 17,139.71, the S&P 500 was losing 0.72 points, or 0.04 percent, to 1,998.26 and the Nasdaq Composite was adding 0.23 points, or 0.01 percent, to 4,552.99.
The largest percentage gainer on the New York Stock Exchange was Hyperdynamcs, which was rising 22.47 percent, while the largest percentage decliner was Rackspace Hosting, down 15.94 percent.
Among the most active stocks on the NYSE were Petroleo Brasil, up 1.60 percent to $17.79; Bank of America , up 0.06 percent to $16.72 and Civitas Solutions , down 4.41 percent to $16.25.
On the Nasdaq, Apple Inc, up 0.1 percent to $100.95; Net Element Inc, up 25.8 percent to $3.27 and Yahoo Inc, down 0.4 percent to $42.55, were among the most actively traded.
Advancing issues were outnumbering declining ones on the NYSE by 1,695 to 1,266, for a 1.34-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,610 issues were rising and 993 falling for a 1.62-to-1 ratio.
The broad S&P 500 index was posting 38 new 52-week highs and 7 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 44 new highs and 33 new lows. (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Bernadette Baum)