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Benchmarks ended a listless trading session nearly flat following mixed earnings reports. Investors were reluctant to bet big bucks on a day devoid of any major economic data or news. The S&P 500 was able to end above the 2K mark, but the index witnessed its lowest intra-day trading range, swinging by only 4.54 points.

For a look at the issues currently facing the markets, make sure to read today’s Ahead of Wall Street article

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) rose meager 0.1% to close at 17,122.01. The Standard & Poor 500 (S&P 500) remained almost flat to close at 2,000.12. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 4,569.62; declining 0.02%. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) rose 1.3% to settle at 11.78. A total of 2.3 billion shares were traded in the NYSE on Wednesday. Advancers outpaced declining stocks on the NYSE. For 55% stocks that advanced, 41% declined.

Investors adopted a wait and watch approach ahead of the release of key economic data. These include second estimate of second quarter GDP and pending home sales data. Trading volume on Wednesday was one of the lowest in the year. The volumes were unexpectedly low during this week as some of the investors are in holiday mode ahead of Labor Day.

Shares of Tiffany & Co. (TIF - Analyst Report) rose almost 1% after posting impressive second quarter earnings per share of 96 cents, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 86 cents. The retailer posted net sales of $992.9 million during the quarter, up 7% from the prior-year quarter and also higher than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $990 million. The company now projects fiscal 2014 earnings between $4.20 and $4.30 per share against $4.15 and $4.25 expected earlier.

Express Inc.’s (EXPR - Snapshot Report) shares soared 12.8% after reporting second quarter earnings per share of 8 cents, ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of breakeven. The company also raised its fiscal 2015 earnings per share guidance from 74-90 cents to 85-95 cents.

However, shares of Chico's FAS Inc. (CHS - Snapshot Report) declined 4.6% after reporting second quarter earnings per share of 20 cents, missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 26 cents. Earnings also dropped almost 26% year over year. 

Reportedly, Apple Inc. (AAPL - Analyst Report) is looking to develop a large screen iPad and will start production by first quarter of 2015. According to Bloomberg, the tech mammoth is trying to manufacture an iPad with a screen size of 12.9 inches. Separately, it was also reported that the company will launch a new wearable device at a company event on Sep 9. Shares of Apple rose 1.2% following these reports.

Separately, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that the U.S. will witness economic growth of only 1.5% this year. Slow growth was primarily attributed to an usually harsh winter which affected economic activity in the first quarter.

On Wednesday, Arseny Yatseniuk, Ukrainian Prime Minister, alleged that Russia is going to stop gas supply to Europe this winter. However, Moscow denied the allegation. The U.S. State Department said Russia is sending more tanks and armored vehicles to Ukraine, which it considers to be preparations for a possible invasion.

The Utilities Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLU) was the biggest gainer among the S&P 500 sectors. The sector gained 1.1% yesterday. Key utilities stocks from the sector such as Exelon Corporation (EXC - Analyst Report), Duke Energy Corporation (DUK - Analyst Report), DTE Energy Company (DTE - Analyst Report) and Southern Company (SO - Analyst Report) rose 1.4%, 0.8%, 0.8% and 0.7%, respectively. Out of 10 S&P sectors, 5 sectors registered gains on Wednesday.

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