By MATT JARZEMSKY and CHRIS DIETERICH
The Dow fell 35.79 points, or 0.3%, to 13982.91, while the S&P 500 rose 0.90 point, or less than 0.1%, to 1520.33. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 10.39 points, or 0.3%, to 3196.88.
General Electric was the best-performing Dow stock, rising 81 cents, or 3.6%, to $23.39, after agreeing to sell Comcast (CMCSA)
The Dow was hurt by pullbacks in stocks like McDonald's, which declined 1.10, or 1.2%, to 94, and Boeing (BA),
By far, the worst-performing stock on the S&P 500 was Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF),
A strong start for stocks has driven the Dow up 6.7% this year, and it remains within striking distance of an all-time high.
"We're reaching a little bit of a stalemate between bulls and bears at this point," said John Manley, chief equity strategist at Wells Fargo (WFC)'s
On the economic front, U.S. retail sales edged up in January, the Commerce Department reported, in line with economists' estimates. The reading was the first since payroll-tax increases kicked in, trimming most Americans' paychecks. "U.S. retail sales were better than many had feared," said Joseph Tanious, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan (JPM)
In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 erased losses to rise 0.4%, after euro-zone industrial production rose more than expected in December. Still, the overall decline for the fourth quarter was at the steepest quarterly rate in more than three years. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 advanced 0.3% to finish at its highest level since May 2008.
In Asia, Japanese stocks fell as overnight strength in the yen, since evaporated, hurt exporter shares. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average shed 1%. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.9% to its highest level since September 2008. Markets in Hong Kong and Shanghai remained closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.
The dollar fell against the yen but rose slightly versus the euro. Gold fell 0.3%, to settle at $1,644.20 a troy ounce. The 10-year Treasury note fell in price to yield 2.017%.
In other corporate news, Best Buy (BBY)
Dean Foods (DF),
Cigarette maker Lorillard (LO)
Data-center operator Rackspace Hosting (RAX)