Stocks were little changed on Tuesday as momentum stalled a day after major indexes rallied to near four-year highs.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke signaled Monday that supportive monetary policy will remain even though the job picture has begun to improve. The Fed chief said the economy needs to grow more quickly to bring the unemployment rate down further.
The S&P has gained 12.6 percent so far this year, putting it near 4-year highs, which some investors believe will make further gains more difficult. The nearly 6-month rally has come partly after accommodative measures by central banks around the world.
Friday is the final trading day of the first quarter, and the S&P is on track for its biggest quarterly gain since 2009. Window dressing -- fund managers chasing stocks that have performed well over the quarter -- may result in additional gains throughout the week.
Selling pressure may start to boil over next week since we're absolutely overbought, said Todd Schoenberger, managing director at LandColt Trading in Wilmington, Delaware. Still, Bernanke was a big catalyst, and buyers may come back this afternoon to window dress.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 0.57 points, or 0.00 percent, at 13,242.20. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 1.47 points, or 0.10 percent, at 1,417.98. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 7.95 points, or 0.25 percent, at 3,130.52.
U.S. consumer confidence dipped in March, while Americans ratcheted up their inflation expectations to the highest level in 10 months, according to a private sector report.
Separately, U.S. single-family home prices were unchanged in January, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index, suggesting the battered housing market continued to crawl along the bottom. Equities barely budged after either data point.
Homebuilder Lennar Corp
Apollo Group Inc
Map Pharmaceuticals Inc
Ista Pharmaceuticals Inc
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)