US STOCKS-Wall St near flat as merger news offsets Japan recession
* Baker Hughes rallies, Halliburton tumbles after deal
* Indexes: Dow up 0.1 pct; S&P 500 up 0.1 pct; Nasdaq down 0.3 pct (Updates to afternoon trading, changes byline)
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, Nov 17 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were near flat Monday afternoon as deal activity in the energy and healthcare sectors offset concerns about overseas growth after Japan's economy slipped into recession.
Shares of Baker Hughes, up 10.2 percent, and Allergan, up 5.1 percent, led gains on the S&P 500 after Halliburton said it would buy Baker Hughes and Allergan agreed to be bought by Actavis.
Weighing on the Nasdaq, which was underperforming both the Dow and S&P 500, were shares of Amazon, which fell 1.9 percent to $321.54, as well as Staples.
Energy shares dropped with crude futures after Japan's economy unexpectedly slipped into recession in the third quarter. The S&P energy index fell 0.3 percent.
"Concern about deceleration of economic growth particularly in Asia" weighed on markets, said Chad Morganlander, portfolio manager at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co in Florham Park, New Jersey.
At 2:02 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average rose 21.55 points, or 0.12 percent, to 17,656.29, the S&P 500 gained 1.76 points, or 0.09 percent, to 2,041.58 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 14.92 points, or 0.32 percent, to 4,673.62. Continuación...