U.S. stocks began the week’s trading session flat Monday morning as investors paused ahead of a Federal Open Market Committee meeting and a raft of important U.S. company earnings that will set the tone for the rest of the third-quarter earnings season. Meanwhile, U.S. new home sales data released Monday mornings showed the lowest demand in a year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) lost 16.20 points, or 0.09 percent, to 17,631 in Monday morning trading. The S&P 500 index (INDEXSP:.INX) declined by 6.05 points, or 0.29 percent, to 2,069. The Nasdaq composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) shed 11.45  points, or 0.23 percent, to 5,020.

Four out of 10 S&P 500 sectors were up slightly Monday morning, led by consumer staples and telecommunications. Energy stocks led declines, as they have frequently over the past year. Apple Inc. (Nasdaq:AAPL) led declines among the 30 Dow component ahead of its latest earnings report, due out Tuesday after markets close.

Key Asian markets closed modestly up on their first trading day after China’s announcement Friday it was cutting interest rates and loosening bank currency reserve ratios in order to spur growth. The Shanghai Composite Index ended the day up 17.15 points, or 0.50 percent to 3,430. Honk Kong’s Hang Sen closed down slightly while shares on the Tokyo Nikkei 225 were lifted on positive earnings from Panasonic Corporation (TYO:6752) and Hitachi Ltd. (TYO:6501).

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