US STOCKS-Wall Street flat as budget bill stalls in Washington
* Carnival slides, hurt by downgrades, forecast of loss
* Facebook rises after brokerage upgrades
* Dow off 0.1 percent, S&P 500 flat, Nasdaq up 0.2 percent
NEW YORK, Sept 25 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 facing a possible fifth straight day of declines, as the lack of progress in Washington threatened a government shutdown in just six days.
Investors weighed the potential for a U.S. government shutdown against the possibility of a last-minute deal in Congress, keeping indexes near the unchanged mark. Traders also grappled with uncertainty about Federal Reserve policy after the central bank's decision last week to keep its stimulus measures intact.
"The market hasn't taken a clear direction. It's in a narrow trading range and there are lots of issues that are undetermined ... certainly the negotiations on the fiscal side, but also there are some mixed signals on the monetary side," said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.
"As a result, short term, there isn't a clear trade to make a big bet on."
Texas Senator Ted Cruz delivered marathon diatribe of nearly 22 hours against President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul, which delayed Senate consideration of a stop-gap funding measure needed to fund government agencies until November.
Adding to the drama, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned Congress that the United States would exhaust its borrowing capacity by Oct. 17.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 14.83 points or 0.1 percent, to 15,319.76, the S&P 500 gained 0.73 points or 0.04 percent, to 1,698.15 and the Nasdaq Composite added 8.057 points or 0.21 percent, to 3,776.311.
If the S&P ends the day lower, it will mark the first five-day drop for the index since the end of 2012.
Data showed orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods barely grew in August, in a possible sign that companies are holding back on investments due to uncertainty over government spending. A separate report showed sales of new single-family homes rose in August but held near their lowest levels this year, as a sharp rise in interest rates weighed on the U.S. economy.
Facebook shares rose 1.1 percent to $49, brushing against $50 after a slew of brokerage upgrades.
Medical device maker Stryker Corp will buy smaller Mako Surgical for about $1.65 billion to gain access to Mako's technology for robot-assisted orthopedic surgery. Mako shares surged 82.4 percent to $29.49 while Stryker shares dipped 2.3 percent to $69.19.
Carnival Corp shares fell 5 percent to $32.82 after the company warned it could report an adjusted loss for the current quarter and several brokerage downgraded the stock.
J.C. Penney Co Inc tumbled to a 13-year low of $9.94, after Goldman Sachs said it expects sales at the troubled department store chain to improve more slowly than expected. The stock was recenly down 13 percent to $10.35 as the worst performer on the S&P 500.