Stocks treaded water on Tuesday in a low-volume session after data showed a rise in consumer confidence, but a housing report pointed to more bumps in the road.
With many participants out before the New Year's holiday, trading volume is exceptionally light and investors are willing to stand back as the year draws to a close. In late afternoon trading, only 419.14 million shares had changed hands. The benchmark Standard & Poor's index is up 25 percent for the year.
The Conference Board's index of consumer confidence rose more than expected in December to a reading of 52.9, a three-month high.
The S&P/Case-Shiller composite index of home prices in 20 metropolitan areas was unchanged in October, falling short of expectations for an increase of 0.2 percent. The news drove the Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction index <.DJUSHB> down 0.3 percent.
I don't think anyone is expecting a major climb here out of this recession, said Owen Fitzpatrick, head of the U.S. equity group at Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management in New York.
Shares of consumer products giant Procter & Gamble Co
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 20.33 points, or 0.19 percent, to 10,567.41 The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> inched up just 0.08 of a point or 0.01 percent, to 1,127.86. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> dipped 0.95 points, or 0.04 percent, to 2,290.13.
Weighing on the Nasdaq was iPod and iPhone maker Apple Inc
If the S&P 500 ends the day higher, it will be the broad market index's seventh straight positive session. Stocks have mostly inched up in recent days, as investors focus on 2010.
Trading volume was thin in an abbreviated week, with only four trading days and many market players on vacation between Christmas and New Year's. On Friday, U.S. financial markets will be closed for the New Year's Day holiday.
(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Jan Paschal)