* Dow, S&P, Nasdaq near break-even line (Recasts with Fed statement)
By Rodrigo Campos
June 17 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed in choppy trading on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve said the U.S. economy is likely in a strong enough position to withstand an interest rate hike later this year.
With the more clear view regarding the Fed’s next tightening step, high-yielding utilities stocks were bid while benchmark Treasury yields initially lost much of the day’s gains. The S&P 500 utilities sector rose 0.8 percent after having hit on Tuesday its lowest since late September.
“The Fed is setting us up for the rate hike, which is inevitable and will come sometime between now and December,” said Wayne Kaufman, chief market analyst at Phoenix Financial Services in New York.
“Stocks don’t seem to be having much reaction,” he said. “People have been expecting a rate hike to come, and the market is ready for that.”
He said given the option between a September or December hike he would take the former. “I would prefer to get it out of the way.”
The Fed has long stated its first rate hike in nearly a decade is dependent on the strength of the economic data.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.62 points, or 0.01 percent, to 17,906.1, the S&P 500 lost 0.59 points, or 0.03 percent, to 2,095.7 and the Nasdaq Composite fell 1.18 points, or 0.02 percent, to 5,054.37.
Adding to support for equities, investors have seen the proximity of rising rates as a trigger for more M&A activity, with mergers and acquisitions already at record levels.
Away from the Fed, FedEx fell 3.9 percent to $175.08 after the package delivery firm reported a quarterly net loss.
Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli