Stocks were little changed on Wednesday, trimming earlier gains as the dollar advanced, while investors tried to gauge how much further markets could run to year-end.
Individual stocks, including regional banks, benefited as investors looking to boost returns scooped up stocks that have performed well. The financial sector was also supported after UBS raised its price target on several banks.
Regions Financial Corp
But other shares with recent strong advances waned as investors opted to lock in profits. Netflix Inc
The broader market was pressured as the greenback extended gains and by sovereign debt worries after Moody's said it may downgrade Spain's credit rating. Equities and the dollar have seen a strong inverse relationship of late.
Scott Marcouiller, chief technical market strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors in St. Louis, said that despite the sideways action, the bias ultimately is to the upside.
There's a lot of money managers that are playing the catch-up game, said Marcouiller.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> added 10.56 points, or 0.09 percent, to 11,487.10. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> dipped 3.67 points, or 0.30 percent, to 1,237.92. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was off 4.76 points, or 0.18 percent, to 2,622.96.
Encouraging data limited declines as industrial production rose in November, while consumer prices ticked up, suggesting the U.S. Federal Reserve will complete its $600 billion bond-buying program to help the economy.
Stocks ended flat on Monday and Tuesday as indexes succumbed to afternoon selling.
Wednesday's action into the close could give an indication of how much upside is left to the year, said Kurt Brunner, portfolio manager at Swarthmore Group in Philadelphia.
The economic numbers are giving us this upside, but I want to see how we end today. If we roll over today, that would say to me we're probably going to plod through to the end of the year, he said.
The S&P 500 is up about 11.4 percent for the year.
Since 1990, stocks in the S&P 500 have averaged a gain of 1.9 percent over the last 10 trading days of the year, according to Bespoke Investment Group. Bespoke also found the winners for the year outperform in the final two weeks, while the losers continue to lag.
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)