Stock indexes held near 29-month highs on Thursday as buyers took their cues from companies reporting strong results, like Caterpillar, but the short-term technical picture suggested big gains are going to be hard to muster.

Netflix also supported the market, but results from major companies such as AT&T and Procter & Gamble disappointed.

The S&P 500 faces technical resistance near 1,300, an area that saw a cluster of closing and session highs during August 2008. Technical analysts are also looking at the 12,000 mark on the Dow as a possible sell trigger after eight weeks of gains by the blue-chip average.

Caterpillar shares rose 0.5 percent to $96.26 after it reported a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit.

Movie rental company Netflix Inc soared to a lifetime high of $211.30 and electronics test equipment maker Teradyne Inc jumped 10.9 percent to $16.22. Both posted results Wednesday after the close.

There's a lot of individual stock movements, but things seem to be canceling out, said Giri Cherukuri, head trader at OakBrook Investments LLC in Isle, Illinois. We have a large number of earnings and the market is processing those one by one.

Shares of Dow components AT&T and P&G
fell as their profits slid from the year-ago period, and AT&T's wireless subscriber growth came in below consensus. AT&T dropped 3 percent to $27.88, while P&G lost 2.6 percent to $64.38.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> shed 1.97 points, or 0.02 percent, to 11,983.47. The Standard & Poor's 500 <.SPX> dipped 0.79 point, or 0.06 percent, to 1,295.84. The Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> gained 5.10 points, or 0.19 percent, to 2,744.60.

Thomson Reuters data showed 71 percent of the S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings so far have beaten estimates.

Qualcomm Inc helped lift the Nasdaq, rising 5.2 percent to $54.57 a day after it raised its outlook for second-quarter and full-year revenue.

Initial jobless claims surged to 454,000 in the latest week, rising to the highest level since late October, the government said.

In other economic news, new orders for U.S. manufactured goods fell unexpectedly in December and contracts for pending home resales rose faster than expected in December.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos, Editing by Kenneth Barry)