Volume in stocks surged on Tuesday as more than 11 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, NYSE Amex and Nasdaq.

The CBOE volatility index <.VIX> closed at 17.99 -- its lowest level since April and below a key technical resistance at 18.

Wall Street stocks eked out a small gain, but were well off session highs as investors' enthusiasm over a tax cut extension deal was short-circuited by rising bond yields and reports regulators were stepping up an insider trading probe.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dipped 3.03 points, or 0.03 percent, to 11,359.16. The Standard & Poor's 500 <.SPX> edged up 0.63 points, or 0.05 percent, to 1,223.75. The Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> gained 3.57 points, or 0.14 percent, to 2,598.49.

The 11.1 billion shares was the highest volume since July 1, according to Reuters data.