U.S. stocks dipped on Wednesday as worries over Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's strategy after the economy recovers offset optimism about a possible rescue for debt-burdened Greece.
Trading volume was light, with many participants leaving early because of an East Coast snowstorm.
The French daily Le Monde wrote that France and Germany were set to present a plan at a European Union summit on Thursday aimed at preventing Greece from going bankrupt.
But stocks initially dropped after Bernanke gave his most detailed description to date of how the Fed would dismantle
emergency supports put in place to bolster an ailing economy. Shares recovered as some traders felt the initial reaction was overdone.
A little tone that interest rates might go up some time spooked investors a little bit in the morning, said Alan Lancz, president of Alan B. Lancz & Associates Inc., an investment advisory firm in Toledo, Ohio.
I think we could have been down more, but the news came out (on Greece), and, short-term, I think it alleviates one of the clouds that have been hanging over the market.
Energy and industrial companies, including Chevron Corp
Financials were the only S&P 500 sector to close higher. The S&P financial index <.GPSF> gained 0.8 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was down 20.26 points, or 0.20 percent, at 10,038.38. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was down 2.39 points, or 0.22 percent, at 1,068.13. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was down 3.00 points, or 0.14 percent, at 2,147.87.
The market fluctuated between positive and negative during the day, and traders said the low volume was a major factor.
On the corporate side, Sprint Nextel Corp
Dow component Walt Disney Co
On the New York Stock Exchange, about 1 billion shares changed hands, well below last year's estimated daily average of 2.18 billion.
Advancers outnumbered declining stocks on the NYSE by a ratio of 15 to 14, while decliners outnumbered advancers on Nasdaq by a ratio of about 13 to 12.
(Editing by Kenneth Barry)