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Data brings more focus on timing of U.S. rate hike

U.S. stock investors may be bracing for further signs next week that the Federal Reserve could increase interest rates sooner rather than later, with retail sales expected to rebound after two straight months of declines. A pickup in retail sales could show consumers are benefiting from sharply lower oil prices, but analysts say spending in February was likely curbed by unusually harsh weather in parts of the United States. Among them, Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker repeated his view that the Fed should raise rates in June.

U.S. stocks needn’t fret about a government shutdown

By Rodrigo Campos NEW YORK (Reuters) – Investors may be tempted to shy away from stocks in the next week or two as the latest version of the fiscal follies plays out in Washington. It's understandable. The prospect of a government shutdown or, worse, default on the federal debt, rekindles memories of 2011 when Washington's infighting prompted the loss of the United States' triple-A credit rating and was a primary driver behind the stock market's last full-on correction. …

Stocks cut gains, Dow turns negative

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stocks cut their gains on Monday, with the Dow turning negative as initial optimism over a deal to keep Cyprus afloat faded. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 4.55 points, or 0.03 percent, at 14,507.48. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 2.79 points, or 0.18 percent, at 1,559.68. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 5.60 points, or 0.17 percent, at 3,250.59. (Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Kenneth Barry)