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.
Movie rental company Netflix Inc
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
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.
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)