Stocks were little changed after a higher open on Monday, with the S&P 500 facing levels where selling has clustered in recent sessions.
The benchmark hovered near 1,333, a level it has been unable to close above since mid-February. That level is double the 12-year low hit in March 2009 and is not far from 1,344, the S&P's 2011 high and its highest since June 2008.
I think the market has enough inertia and the retest of 1,344 is in store, said Richard Ross, global technical strategist at Auerbach Grayson in New York. We're looking for a marginal new high on the S&P 500 setting you up for the next leg of the advance.
If you did have a breakout which failed, those false breakouts often lead to a fast move in the opposite direction.
On Friday, the S&P recorded its best two-week period since December, and the Dow industrials <.DJI> hit its highest intraday level since June 2008.
It wouldn't be unhealthy to see a period of consolidation in the short term, but with this kind of momentum you sometimes don't get that pause, Ross said.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> added just 2.54 points, or 0.02 percent, to 12,379.26. The Standard & Poor's 500 <.SPX> edged up 0.05 point to 1,332.46. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> slipped 3.95 points, or 0.14 percent, to 2,785.65.
The lack of significant economic data on Monday, nuclear and other quake-related problems in Japan and unrest in Libya, Syria and other states in the oil-rich region could translate into low volumes in Wall Street. Last week was the lowest in volume so far in 2011.
In acquisition news, Pfizer Inc rose 0.8 percent to $20.54 after the drugmaker agreed to sell its Capsugel unit, the world's largest maker of hard capsules, to private equity firm KKR & Co for nearly $2.4 billion.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Kenneth Barry)