US stocks hold near record after a batch of mixed economic reports; Deere drops on outlook



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Traders Richard Scardino, left, and Michael Smyth work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014. Stock indexes are holding near record levels as traders digest some mixed news on the U.S. economy. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)


Trader Sal Suarino works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014. Stock indexes are holding near record levels as traders digest some mixed news on the U.S. economy. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)


Traders Dan Ryan, left, and Mark Muller work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014. Stock indexes are holding near record levels as traders digest some mixed news on the U.S. economy. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)


Trader Greg Mulligan, right, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014. Stock indexes are holding near record levels as traders digest some mixed news on the U.S. economy. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)


A businessman runs past an electronic stock indicator of a securities firm in Tokyo, Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014. Asian stock markets mostly posted modest gains Wednesday as stronger U.S. growth was tempered by a less rosy outlook for China. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)


A businessman walks past an electronic stock indicator of a securities firm in Tokyo Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014. Asian stock markets mostly posted modest gains Wednesday as stronger U.S. growth was tempered by a less rosy outlook for China. Japan's Nikkei 225 dropped 0.1 percent to 17,399.73 while China's Shanghai Composite rose 0.5 percent to 2,580.85. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)


NEW YORK — U.S. stocks were little changed on Wednesday, keeping the major indexes near record levels, as investors assessed the latest reports on the economy.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose one point, or 0.1 percent, to 2,068 as of 11:54 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 16 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,798. The Nasdaq composite climbed 17 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,774.

MIXED PICTURE: Investors got three got reports Wednesday morning that gave mixed signals on how the U.S. economy was doing. Orders for long-lasting manufactured goods rose in October, but a key category that tracks business investment plans declined sharply for a second straight month.

A separate report showed that the number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits jumped last week, pushing total applications above 300,000 for the first time in nearly three months. Another report showed U.S. consumers spent modestly more in October, a slight improvement after no gain at all in the previous month.

HOLIDAY SEASON: The U.S. stock market will be closed on Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday. It will also close early, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time, on Friday.

Stocks have barely budged this week ahead of the break. The S&P 500 index has gained 0.2 percent since Monday and the Dow has edged 0.1 percent lower.

THE QUOTE: "This seems to be a classic holiday plateau," said Kristina Hooper, head of US Capital Markets Research & Strategy for Allianz Global Investors. "Probably, we are not going to get any focus until we come back on Monday."

THE CHIPS FALL: Analog Devices, a maker of semiconductors, was among the biggest gainers in the S&P 500 index after the company reported earnings and sales that exceeded Wall Street's expectations. The company said that its sales rose 20 percent in its fiscal fourth quarter ending Nov. 1 compared with a year ago. The company also expects 21 percent revenue growth in its first quarter.

DOWN ON THE FARM: Deere's fourth-quarter results were stronger than Wall Street expected, but the company said its farm equipment sales and profits will keep falling in its new fiscal year as the sector remains weak. Deere's stock slid $2.94, or 3.3 percent, to $84.84.

ENERGY: Oil prices were flat ahead of a meeting of OPEC members in Vienna on Thursday. Benchmark crude edged up four cents to $74.12 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It dropped $1.69 to $74.09 a barrel on Tuesday.

EUROPE'S DAY: Britain's FTSE 100 was flat at 6,729 and Germany's DAX rose 0.6 percent to 9,915. France's CAC-40 shed 0.2 percent to 4,373.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices edged higher. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.24 percent from 2.26 on Tuesday. The dollar edged down to 117.60 yen from 117.85 yen late Tuesday. The euro rose to $1.2508 from $1.2477 late Tuesday.

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