Scoreboard: Fed countdown

Wall Street closed little changed as investors await the outcome of the Fed policy meeting and key economic data due later in the week.

In US economic data, the "flash" services index was unchanged at 61.0 in July, above forecasts centred on a result near 59.8. The pending home sales index fell by 1.1 per cent to 102.7 in June, below forecasts centred on a 0.5 per cent gain. And the Dallas Federal Reserve index rose from 11.4 to 12.7 in July.

European shares eased on Monday with investors focussed on mixed US economic data and pending new European sanctions on Russia. The FTSEurofirst 300 index fell by 0.2 per cent with the German Dax down by 0.5 per cent while the UK FTSE lost 0.1 per cent. Australia's major miners were mixed in London trade with shares in BHP Billiton down by 0.3 per cent while Rio Tinto rose by 0.1 per cent.

US sharemarket indexes were largely flat on Monday as investors awaited key economic events later in the week including a Federal Reserve meeting of policymakers. Dollar Tree Inc offered to buy rival discount chain Family Dollar Stores Inc for about $US8.5 billion. And in the online real estate sector, Zillow Inc agreed to buy Trulia Inc for $3.5 billion. The Dow Jones index rose by 22 points or 0.1 per cent with the S&P 500 index up by less than 0.1 per cent while the Nasdaq lost 4.7 points or 0.1 per cent.

US treasury prices eased on Monday (yields higher) as traders positioned ahead of key economic data later in the week. US 2-year yields rose by less than 1 point to 0.504 per cent while US 10-year yields were up by 2 points to 2.485 per cent.

Major currencies were mixed against the US dollar in thin European and US trade on Monday. The Euro fell from lows near $US1.3425 to $US1.3453, before ending US trade near $US1.3430. The Aussie dollar rose from lows near US93.85c to highs of US94.12c before ending the US session near US94.05c. And the Japanese yen held between 101.74 yen per US dollar and JPY101.89, ending US trade near JPY101.85.

World oil prices fell on Monday on data suggesting that the global market was well supplied with product. Reuters noted that "Traders reported about 30 million unsold barrels of West African crude for lifting in August, and September cargoes were already becoming available."  Brent crude fell by US82c or 0.8 per cent to $US107.57 a barrel and the US Nymex price fell by US42 cents a barrel to $US101.67 a barrel.

Base metal prices rose by up to 1.5 per cent on Monday with lead posting the strongest gain. But nickel fell by 2.1 per cent and copper lost 0.1 per cent. Gold prices were flat on Monday as investors monitored geopolitical events. The Comex gold futures price was unchanged $US1,303.30 per ounce. Iron ore was unchanged at $US94.30 a tonne.

Ahead: In Australia, new home sales data is scheduled. In the US, consumer confidence data, the Case Shiller home price index and the Dallas Federal Reserve services index are all released. The Federal Reserve starts a two-day meeting.

Craig James is the chief economist at Commsec.