U.S. stocks were little changed on Wednesday as a strong reading on the labor market failed to extend gains a day after the Dow and S&P reached their highest close in about 2-1/2 years.

U.S. private employers added 187,000 jobs in January, topping forecasts, according to a private report.

The ADP report was very positive, but given the big day we had yesterday it isn't surprising that people would be taking some profits now, said Wayne Kaufman, chief market analyst at John Thomas Financial in New York.

Investors also kept an eye on the massive protests in Egypt as clashes erupted between opponents and supporters of President Hosni Mubarak. Concerns that protests would spread throughout the region have pressured equities in recent sessions.

Everybody hopes that the unrest in Egypt stays contained to just that area ... but this is a process and I'm sure that this news is not going away over the next week, said Linda Raschke, a partner with the Chicago-based FuturePath Trading.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 3.03 points, or 0.03 percent, at 12,043.19. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 1.25 points, or 0.10 percent, at 1,306.34. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 2.53 points, or 0.09 percent, at 2,753.72.

Appliance maker Whirlpool Corp dropped 5.3 percent to $80.90 after its profit missed estimates.

Time Warner Inc and Mattel Inc rallied after both companies reported stronger-than-expected quarterly profits. Media group Time Warner gained 4.4 percent to $33.74 while toymaker Mattel was up 3 percent to $24.88.

(Additional reporting by Doris Frankel; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)