April 14, 2016 / 3:32 PM / 2 years ago

US STOCKS-Wall St treads water after bank earnings, data

* U.S. jobless claims down last week

* U.S. consumer prices barely up in March

* Bank of America, Wells Fargo fall after results

* Seagate sinks after disappointing estimates

* Dow up 0.05 pct, S&P flat, Nasdaq down 0.05 pct (Adds details, changes comment, updates prices)

By Abhiram Nandakumar

April 14 (Reuters) - Wall Street was little changed in muted trading on Thursday as tepid earnings reports from big banks failed to excite investors.

Bank of America and Wells Fargo posted lower quarterly profits and increased reserves to cover bad loans from their stressed energy portfolios.

The results come a day after JPMorgan beat lowered expectations for first-quarter profit and revenue, fueling a rally on Wall Street.

Shares of Bank of America were up 1.5 percent in choppy trading, while those of Wells Fargo fell 1 percent.

The S&P financial sector is down nearly 4 percent for the year - easily the worst performer among the 10 major S&P sectors - weighed down by the uncertainty surrounding U.S. interest rates and potential defaults in the energy sector.

“We’re kind of a in a ‘boring-to-nice’ market for stocks,” said Len Blum, managing partner of Blum Capital Advisors in New York, adding that bank earnings typically spark some volatility as they are considered to be a proxy for economic activity.

“It’s just a continuing story of ‘wait and see what the rest of earnings season is,’” he said.

At 10:56 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 9.04 points, or 0.05 percent, at 17,917.32, the S&P 500 was up 0.09 points, or 0 percent, at 2,082.51 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 2.56 points, or 0.05 percent, at 4,944.86.

Eight of the 10 major S&P sectors were lower. However, financials were up 0.36 percent.

Expectations for corporate earnings are weak, with S&P 500 companies on average seen posting a 7.8 percent decline in first-quarter profit, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Data on Thursday showed U.S. consumer prices barely rose in March, while jobless claims fell more than expected and sank to levels last seen in 1973.

The data could add to speculation about when the Fed will pull the trigger on interest rates, with the market pricing in only one hike this year and the central bank projecting two.

Oil steadied after the International Energy Agency trimmed its forecast for demand growth, but said U.S. oil output was falling fast.

Seagate Technology shares were down 18 percent at $27.76 as the hard-disk maker’s disappointing third-quarter estimates prompted a slew of price target cuts. Western Digital fell 7.4 percent $41.47.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,654 to 1,154. On the Nasdaq, 1,367 issues fell and 1,190 rose.

The S&P 500 index showed 16 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 30 new highs and nine lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan and Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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