Stocks were little changed on Wednesday, as a stronger U.S. dollar outweighed data showing business activity in the U.S. Midwest expanded more than expected in December.

Semiconductor issues gained after a brokerage upgraded two chipmakers. The PHLX Semiconductor index <.SOXX> jumped 1.1 percent.

The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago business barometer rose to 60.0 in December, much better than economists' forecast of 55.0.

The number is a lot above consensus, and it bodes well for continued solid expectations as far as the economy and manufacturing goes, said Alan Lancz, president of Alan B. Lancz & Associates in Toledo, Ohio. That's going to be a vital part of 2010.

The Dow Jones industrial average added 3.78 points, or 0.04 percent, at 10,549.19. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was flat, edging up 0.06 points, or 0.01 percent, at 1,126.26. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 3.83 points, or 0.17 percent, at 2,292.23.

Marvell Technology Group Ltd jumped 3.4 percent to $20.94, and Nvidia Corp advanced 2.3 percent to $18.44, helping the Nasdaq outperform the other two indexes.

Kaufman Bros upgraded Marvell and Nvidia to buy, saying the chipmakers could benefit from improved demand for personal computers.

The dollar gained across the board, benefiting from year-end flows and a view that the U.S. economy is stabilizing. Equities and the greenback have moved in an inverse direction of late, though the relationship has shown signs of deterioration.