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* Bank stocks flat ahead of Fed minutes at 2 pm ET
* Tech stocks boost; Industrials drop ahead of trade talks
* Target, Lowe’s rise after results, boost other retailers
* Manafort and Cohen legal woes add uncertainty
* Indexes: Dow dips 0.14 pct, S&P flat, Nasdaq up 0.26 pct (Changes comment, updates prices to early afternoon)
By Shreyashi Sanyal
Aug 22 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 marked its longest bull-market run on Wednesday, but stocks were largely flat ahead of trade talks and the Federal Reserve’s minutes, with investors worrying about the impact of the legal woes of two ex-advisers on President Donald Trump.
Bank stocks were flat ahead of the minutes of the Fed’s August policy meeting at 2:00 p.m. ET (1800 GMT). The minutes are expected to reaffirm the central bank’s commitment to future rate hikes, which Trump has been critical about.
Seven of the 11 major S&P sectors fell, with the trade-sensitive industrial sector down 0.68 percent ahead of Sino-U.S. trade talks.
Energy stocks rose 1.24 percent as oil prices jumped, while retailers gained from Target and Lowe’s results. The biggest boost came from technology stocks , which advanced 0.41 percent.
Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was found guilty of tax and bank fraud charges on Tuesday evening, while Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to a range of charges and said he acted at the direction of Trump.
Investors are considering whether the twin setback will hurt the Republican Party’s election prospects and widen a criminal probe that has overshadowed Trump’s presidency.
“Markets have become increasingly resilient over the last few months and have become used to the noise out of Washington,” said Christine Scalley, U.S. equity strategist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank in New York.
“Right now the focus is on fundamentals and on the ongoing trade conversation,” Scalley said.
The S&P’s bull-market run has now stretched for 3,453 days, the longest streak by commonly-used definitions, and comes a day after it hit a record intraday high. So far this week, a host of S&P stocks have hit 52-week highs, but none have hit new lows.
“There is a lot more interest around the fact that we are in the longest bull-run ever. I do expect the markets to go back and forth, but today the swings are not that large,” said Peter Lazaroff, co-chief information officer at Plancorp in Saint Louis, Missouri.
At 12:58 p.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 35.09 points, or 0.14 percent, at 25,787.20, the S&P 500 was up 0.94 points, or 0.03 percent, at 2,863.90 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 20.61 points, or 0.26 percent, at 7,879.78.
Target was last up 4.8 percent after beating quarterly estimates and raising its full-year profit forecast.
Lowe’s jumped 7.5 percent after the home improvement chain promised to cut back slow-moving products and unsuccessful business projects. Shares of both the retailers hit record highs.
Hartford Financial dropped 4.1 percent after the insurer said it will buy Navigators Group in a $2.1 billion. Navigators shares jumped 8.9 percent.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.10-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.39-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 19 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 89 new highs and 17 new lows. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)