U.S. stocks were little changed on Wednesday as the dollar hit a three-month high against the yen, tempering a much better-than-expected report on Midwest business activity.

While investors looked to the data for signs a recovery is taking hold, some traders have moved to safer assets like the dollar to lock in profits after a strong 2009.

The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago business barometer surged to a four-year high, topping forecasts, on a recovery in employment and accelerating new orders.

The dollar is putting a constraint on stocks, and the data isn't a big enough story to really overcome that, said Rob Stein, managing partner of Astor Asset Management in Chicago.

Plus, it's a holiday week and a lot of people are out, so the trading is very thin and everyone wants to book their profits for 2009.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> inched up 1.14 points, or 0.01 percent, to 10,546.55. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> edged down 1.01 points, or 0.09 percent, at 1,125.19. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> dipped 1.13 points, or 0.05 percent, at 2,287.27.

In Tuesday's session, indexes ended modestly lower and snapped a six-day streak of gains.

Semiconductor stocks gained after Kaufman Bros upgraded both Marvell Technology Group Ltd and Nvidia Corp to buy, saying they could benefit from improved demand for personal computers.

The Philadelphia Semiconductor index <.SOXX> gained 1.2 percent, while Marvell added 2.9 percent to $20.85 and Nvidia shot up 3.3 percent to $18.62, both in Nasdaq trading.

Health insurance stocks declined after Aetna Inc said it expects to take a charge to cover job-cut costs and real estate consolidation.

Aetna slid 2 percent to $32.20 on the New York Stock Exchange, while Cigna Corp slipped 1.4 percent to $35.70, and WellCare Health Plans Inc shed 2 percent to $37.58.

The U.S. dollar hit a three-month high against the yen on year-end flows in thin trade and views the U.S. economy is on the road to recovery.

U.S. February crude futures rose 80 cents, or 1 percent, to $79.67 per barrel after data from the Energy Information Administration showed declines in crude oil stockpiles in the latest week. Falling inventories are considered a bullish sign for demand in the world largest energy consumer.

(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Jan Paschal)