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updated: 9/25/2013 11:27 AM

Stocks little changed after 4 days of declines

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Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The stock market is adrift a week after setting a record.

Stocks were flat in late-morning trading Wednesday as investors continue to worry about the economy and the growing possibility of a government shutdown.

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The Dow Jones industrial average was up less than a point to 15,336 as of 11:15 a.m. Eastern Time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down less than a point to 1,697. The Nasdaq composite was up less than a point to 3,769.

The U.S. government will run out of funding on Sept. 30, unless both parties can agree to pass a temporary funding bill in the next few days. The Senate will vote Wednesday on the temporary measure, which will then likely head back to the House of Representatives for debate. The funding fight is expected to go through the weekend.

The Dow and S&P 500 surged to all-time highs on Sept. 18, but have fallen four consecutive days on concerns a government shutdown could harm the fragile U.S. economic recovery. The mood of investors has shifted from giddiness over more Federal Reserve stimulus to concern about Washington politicking.

"The action over the last few days has been far more tied to the intractably of Congress and the president than the concerns about what the Federal Reserve is going to do next," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank, which manages $66 billion in assets.

Ablin said investors are left with bad memories of August 2011, the last time Congress and President Obama fought over the debt ceiling and the budget, which ultimately led Standard & Poor's to downgrade the credit rating of the U.S.

The Dow went through nearly three weeks of triple-digit gains and losses during that month, a rough ride that made even hardened Wall Street traders nauseous.

"All we're doing now is worrying," Ablin said.

Investors did get an unexpectedly positive August durable goods report on Wednesday. Orders for long-lasting manufactured goods rose 0.1 percent last month, following an 8.1 percent decline in July.

Among stocks making big moves:

Mako Surgical soared $13.32, or 83 percent, to $29.49 after medical technology company Stryker said it would buy Mako for $1.65 billion, or $30 per share.

Ascena Retail Group shares jumped $2.74, or 16 percent, to $20.07. The parent company of Lane Bryant, Dressbarn and Maurices, reported results that were significantly better than financial analysts expected in its most recent quarter.

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