* Starwood up after Marriott’s higher offer
* IHS up after deal to buy Markit
* Valeant soars on search for new CEO, Ackman to join board
* Indexes up: Dow 0.15 pct, S&P 0.05 pct, Nasdaq 0.19 pct (Adds details, changes comment, updates prices)
By Abhiram Nandakumar
March 21 (Reuters) - Wall Street was little changed on Monday as losses in energy and materials stocks were offset by gains in healthcare and telecom shares.
Crude prices edged up despite uncertainty about a plan to freeze production and signs of U.S. producers increasing drilling activity.
A report showed U.S. existing home sales fell 7.1 percent in February, widely missing the 2.2 percent drop expected, in a troubling sign for an economy which has otherwise looked resilient to the global economic slowdown.
“Our market is really resting on the back of the dovish statement from the Fed and waiting to see where we are headed with the economic data,” said Lisa Kopp, head of traditional investments at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis.
The U.S. Federal Reserve’s accommodative move last week to cut the number of expected rate hikes this year to two was the latest among a slew of measures by central banks to support growth and calm the turmoil in global financial markets.
At 11:31 a.m. ET (1531 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was up 26.12 points, or 0.15 percent, at 17,628.42, the S&P 500 was up 1.05 points, or 0.05 percent, at 2,050.63 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 9.01 points, or 0.19 percent, at 4,804.66.
The S&P energy sector was down 1.1 percent and materials fell 0.9 percent. Chevron was down 1.6 percent at $96.12, while Dow Chemical fell 1.6 percent to $50.84.
Shares of Starwood were up 4.1 percent at $83.87 after the Sheraton hotel owner accepted a higher offer from Marriott that beat an all-cash offer by a group led by China’s Anbang Insurance Group. Marriott was down 1.2 percent at $72.30.
IHS was up 6.5 percent at $117.94 after the U.S. business research provider said it would buy London-based Markit in an all-stock deal valued at about $5.9 billion. Markit’s Nasdaq-listed shares were up 9.4 percent at $32.26.
Dow component Nike was up 2.2 percent at $64.38 after JP Morgan raised its price target and added the stock to its focus list, replacing Lululemon, which fell 3.4 percent to $60.37.
Valeant soared 11 percent to $29.94, after the beleaguered drugmaker said it had started a search for a new Chief Executive and that Bill Ackman had joined the board.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,737 to 1,109. On the Nasdaq, 1,441 issues fell and 1,195 rose.
The S&P 500 index showed six new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 24 new highs and eight new lows. (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian)