April 4, 2017 / 5:13 PM / a year ago

US STOCKS-Wall St flat as caution builds ahead of Trump-Xi meeting

* Trump-Xi meeting set for Thursday and Friday

* Nvidia top drag on S&P and Nasdaq after rating cut

* Energy shares move up as oil nears 1-month high

* Dow up 0.12 pct, S&P and Nasdaq little changed (Updates to early afternoon)

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

April 4 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed on Tuesday, trading in a tight range, as investors fretted over the ability of President Donald Trump to deliver on his policy plans, and ahead of his potentially tense meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The industrial and material stocks got a boost after Trump said the U.S. infrastructure bill may top $1 trillion and that his administration was working on a major “haircut” on the Dodd-Frank banking regulation, rekindling some of his campaign promises.

But, the gains were neither sufficient or last long enough to offset a drop in financials and technology stocks.

The market rally that was sparked by Trump’s pro-business policy plans has cooled of late, following legislative setbacks that led investors to question whether the president would be able to deliver on his promises.

Adding to investor nervousness is Trump’s upcoming meeting with Xi, one which the U.S. president expects “will be a very difficult one,” according to his tweet last week. He has held out the possibility of using trade as a lever to secure China’s cooperation against North Korea at the Thursday-Friday meeting.

At 12:44 p.m. ET (1644 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 25.32 points, or 0.12 percent, at 20,675.53, the S&P 500 was down 1.25 points, or 0.05 percent, at 2,357.59 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 1.36 points, or 0.02 percent, at 5,893.32.

“We will probably have a period of consolidation here as the realism sets in ... it’s likely that we are going to see some choppy sideways trading,” said Jason Pride, director of investment strategy at Glenmede in Philadelphia.

“Investors are having to go through a period of realism here, which is a transition away from some of the policy-related hype that surrounded the administration to the reality that much of what was proposed was either not going to make it or be a watered down version or be greatly delayed,” he said.

Of the 11 major S&P sectors, four were lower, two gained and the rest were little changed. The energy index was up 0.4 percent, helped by higher oil prices.

The biggest drag on the S&P and the Nasdaq was Nvidia , which dropped 5.6 percent to $102.24 after Pacific Crest downgraded the chipmaker’s stock.

Staples was the biggest percentage gainer on the S&P with a 10 percent gain. Reuters reported that the office supplies retailer was exploring a sale.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,542 to 1,277. On the Nasdaq, 1,489 issues fell and 1,242 advanced.

The S&P 500 index showed six 52-week highs and six lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 29 highs and 34 lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza)

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