U.S. stocks opened flat Wednesday after durable-goods rose less than expected in February and a key barometer of future business spending missed estimates.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 11.21 points, or 0.08 percent, to 13,208.94. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index dropped 0.02 points, or 0.00 percent, to 1,412.50. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 4.61 points, or 0.15 percent, to 3,124.96.

Orders for goods built to last at least three years rose 2.2 percent, rebounding from a deep 3.6 percent drop in January as demand for civilian aircraft surged, the government said Wednesday. Economist had expected a rise of 3 percent last month. Non-defense capital goods orders, excluding aircraft, edged higher but not enough to beat consensus estimates.

This number is another piece of the puzzle that seems to be coming together to form a picture that the economy is slowly improving, but it is definitely a halting recovery where we're not accelerating to any great degree, Liam Dalton, president of Axiom Capital Management Inc. in New York, told Reuters.

Nonetheless, investors still appear encouraged by remarks from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke emphasizing the fed is prepared to do what is necessary to help the nation's economic recovery gain sustainable traction - including keeping interest rates low.

Meanwhile, oil prices fell to near $106 a barrel Wednesday after a report showed a larger-than-expected jump in U.S. crude supplies, suggesting demand remains weak.