Stocks were little changed on Thursday despite a preholiday flurry of data that reinforced views of a solid economic growth as Wall Street sought to notch a fourth straight week of gains.
New home sales and prices edged up in November, while consumer sentiment rose in December to its highest level since June.
Other reports were mostly in line with expectations, with jobless claims suggesting unemployment will stay stubbornly high. But consumer spending rose for a fifth month, while durable goods orders posted their largest increase since March.
Most economic data in the last couple of months has really turned positive, said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer's Investment Research.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 12.45 points, or 0.11 percent, to 11,571.94. The Standard & Poor's 500 <.SPX> dipped 1.06 points, or 0.08 percent, to 1,257.78. The Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> shed 3.39 points, or 0.13 percent, to 2,668.09.
Volume was expected to be low as Wall Street takes a break Friday for the Christmas holiday.
The S&P 500 rose Wednesday to its highest level since the collapse of Lehman Brothers more than two years ago, led by bank stocks.
We are continuing to make new highs as volume tails off, and the question is will it lead to some potential weakness into early next year, Detrick said.
Some optimism is creeping in, but bigger picture we think there could be a correction of 5 to 7 percent, toward the second half of January, he said.
The S&P 500 rose 7.6 percent in the last two months of 2009, only to peak mid-January, then fall 2 percent that month.
Retail stocks got a boost as Bed Bath & Beyond Inc
Fabric and crafts retailer Jo-Ann Stores Inc
Micron Technology Inc
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)