* Exxon, Chevron up slightly after results
* LinkedIn, Abbvie soar after results
* Keycorp down after agreeing to buy First Niagara
* Consumer spending barely rose in September
* Indexes up: Dow 0.03 pct, S&P 0.04 pct, Nasdaq 0.14 pct (Updates to open)
By Abhiram Nandakumar
Oct 30 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed on Friday as investors paused on the last trading day of what could be the best month for the three major indexes in four years.
Energy majors Exxon and Chevron reported better-than- expected results, helped by strong refining margins. Exxon shares were down 1 percent, while Chevron rose 1.9 percent.
The consumer staples sector was down 0.64 percent, leading the three decliners among the 10 major S&P sectors, after data showed U.S. consumer spending barely rose in September.
Investors will get more clues on consumer spending when the University of Michigan’s final index on consumer sentiment, which is expected to rise to 92.5 in October from 92.1 in September, is released at 10:00 a.m.
As the earning season winds down, investors will be looking at data over the next several weeks to assess the state of the economy before the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting in December.
The Fed made it clear on Wednesday that a rate hike in December was still possible if there was sufficient evidence that the economy could withstand an increase.
At 9:42 a.m. ET the Dow Jones industrial average was up 5.88 points, or 0.03 percent, at 17,761.68, the S&P 500 was up 0.77 points, or 0.04 percent, at 2,090.18 and the Nasdaq composite index was up 7.19 points, or 0.14 percent, at 5,081.47.
Abbvie was up 8.6 percent at $58.75, giving the biggest boost to the S&P 500, while CVS Health fell 6.9 percent to $96.64 after results.
Keycorp fell 5.6 percent to $12.63 after it said it would buy First Niagara Financial for $4.1 billion. First Niagara rose less than a percent.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals was down 6.1 percent at $104.69 after it said it was cutting all ties with specialty pharmacy Philidor.
LinkedIn shot up 9.6 percent to $237.76 while Expedia jumped 7.5 percent to $136.59 after their quarterly results beat estimates.
Baidu’s U.S.-listed shares were up 7.2 percent at $181.12 after strong results and provided the biggest boost to the Nasdaq Composite.
Strong results from blue-chips have helped improve analyst sentiment, with profits at S&P 500 companies now expected to fall 1.7 percent, far less than the 4.9 percent drop forecast at the start of earnings season, according to Thomson Reuters data.
The Fed’s Board of Governors will hold an open meeting in Washington on policies regarding large banking organizations.
San Francisco Fed President John Williams is slated to take part in a discussion on interest rates.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,417 to 1,250. On the Nasdaq, 1,281 issues fell and 985 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed 10 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 20 new highs and 31 new lows. (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)