Stocks slipped on Wednesday as a five-month rally that pushed the market to a new 2 1/2-year high started to shows signs of fatigue.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told a congressional committee that the labor market remains sluggish and he continues to believe that inflation will remain subdued. Wall Street's reaction to Bernanke's comments was muted.

The market is exhausted after a pretty good run up, and the volume continues to be low, another sign that the rally is losing steam, said John O'Brien, senior vice president at MKM Partners LLC in Cleveland.

Trading volume was at 3.75 billion shares by midday trade. Wall Street's Tuesday volume was the lowest of the year at 6.99 billion shares, compared to last year's daily average at 8.47 billion.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was down 10.22 points, or 0.08 percent, at 12,222.93. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was down 4.94 points, or 0.37 percent, at 1,319.63. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was down 6.42 points, or 0.23 percent, at 2,790.63.

The Dow logged its seventh consecutive positive finish and reached another multiyear high above the 12,200 level, but blue chip index outperformed the broader market, thanks to strong earnings from Coca Cola and Walt Disney.

Deutsche Boerse was in advanced merger talks to tie up with peer NYSE Euronext . NYSE shares jumped 14.5 percent at $28.24.

Rival exchanges also jumped on the news, including the CBOE Holdings Inc up 6.3 percent at $26.02.

If the New York and German exchanges were to merge it will be good for both of them. We saw from NYSE earnings that while the earnings were good, trading volume was a bit off, so a consolidation is a natural course at this point, said Joseph Greco, managing director at Meridian Equity Partners in New York.

Walt Disney Co reported after the bell on Tuesday a stronger-than-expected 54 percent surge in profit. Its shares were up 6 percent at $43.63. Coca-Cola shares were up 0.3 percent at $63.07 after the company reported higher-than-expected quarterly sales.

But weighing on financial shares, Wells Fargo & Co dropped 3 percent to $33.09 on news the bank's chief financial officer will retire.

U.S. technology services provider Computer Sciences Corp lowered its full-year outlook sending its shares down 13.9 percent to $48.68.

(Reporting by Angela Moon, Editing by Kenneth Barry)