US markets flat after Fed minutes hint longer low rates

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Last Updated at 21 Nov 2017, 14:39 GMT *Chart shows local time Dow Jones intraday chart
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(Close): US stocks were little changed, reversing earlier losses, as Federal Reserve meeting minutes suggested it would wait longer before raising interest rates.

Earlier, a drop in oil prices hit shares in energy-related stocks, dragging markets down.

Brent crude futures fell by more than $2 to $60.08 a barrel, while US crude was also down more than a $1 to $51.70.

Among oil firms, Chevron shares fell 1.7% while Exxon Mobil dropped 2.3%.

After closing at a record high on Tuesday. the S&P 500 fell less than a point to 2099.61 while the Dow Jones was unchanged at 18047.58.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq index was up 3.72 to 4,902.99. The second-biggest biggest faller on the Nasdaq was Fossil Group, which sank 16% after the watch and accessories company's fourth-quarter results fell short of expectations.

Investors were also digesting a raft of US economic data. Figures from the Labor Department showed that falling energy costs meant that US producer prices dropped 0.8% in January, the biggest decline for more than five years.

Meanwhile, the US Fed said factory production rose by 0.2% last month, an improvement from December's reading of no growth.

In the property market, the number of housing starts fell 2% in January to an annual pace of 1.07 million units, the Commerce Department said. Despite the slight fall, the rate was still up 18.7% from a year earlier.