* Google up as CFO to move from Morgan Stanley
* Shares of miner Freeport fall after it slashes dividend
* Whiting Petroleum shares tumble after share, note offering
* Indexes: Dow off 0.23 pct, S&P off 0.21 pct, Nasdaq up 0.05 pct (Updates to midday, changes byline)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, March 24 (Reuters) - Stocks were little changed on Wall Street on Tuesday, with equities holding in a tight range that corresponded with currency fluctuations as traders focused on the dollar’s strength and its possible effect on corporate earnings.
The Nasdaq outperformed other major indexes, boosted by a 2.6 percent gain in Google shares to $579.94. Morgan Stanley’s chief financial officer is leaving the bank to join Google.
Data from home sales to inflation and manufacturing indicated the U.S. economy remains strong, but failed to alter expectations of a faster or steeper monetary policy tightening path at the Federal Reserve.
Traders have honed in on how the Fed will react to economic data, as a June interest rate increase remains a possibility. Stocks have been inversely correlated to the U.S. dollar as several companies have given earnings guidance that cited a negative impact from a strong greenback.
“You have central banks lowering rates around the world, while we are talking about raising rates. Our dollar is naturally going to get stronger,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey.
“Therefore, multinationals are going to whacked.”
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 41.2 points, or 0.23 percent, to 18,074.84, the S&P 500 lost 4.36 points, or 0.21 percent, to 2,100.06 and the Nasdaq Composite added 2.57 points, or 0.05 percent, to 5,013.54.
The dollar index zigzagged between gains and losses and was recently up 0.12 percent on the day.
Freeport-McMoRan shares fell 1.3 percent to $19.07 after the miner slashed its quarterly dividend by 84 percent, to 5 cents a share from 31.25 cents, citing lower commodity prices.
Whiting Petroleum Corp plunged 19.2 percent to $31.02. North Dakota’s largest oil producer announced an offering of 35 million shares and a $1.75 billion mix of notes and convertible notes to help cut its near-$6 billion debt load.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,617 to 1,341, for a 1.21-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,326 issues rose and 1,276 fell for a 1.04-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.
The benchmark S&P 500 was posting 19 new 52-week highs and 1 new low; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 83 new highs and 19 new lows. (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Nick Zieminski)