U.S. stocks ended little changed on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 holding steady near a two-month low, as investors sorted through developments in Ukraine and considered two derailed deals.
Sprint declined after the wireless carrier retreated from its offer for T-Mobile US after two months of lobbying failed to clear regulatory hurdles; Twenty-First Century Fox gained after rescinding its $80 billion bid to purchase Time Warner. Walgreen fell after the drugstore chain said it would not use its acquisition of Europe's Alliance Boots to move its headquarters overseas.
"There are a lot of investors who still need to make up that exposure from their short fall last year, who come in and buy any dip aggressively," said Joe Peta, managing director at Novus Partners.
"I think we'll hit new highs before we hit an actual 10 percent correction. From talking to investors over the last week, I've never heard so many people already positioned for a sell off that hadn't occurred yet," Peta added.
Strategists said technical factors were in play, with the S&P 500 holding 1,920 at Tuesday's close seen as bullish, as well as Wednesday's testing and bouncing back off of the prior session's intraday low of 1,913.
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Equities offered little reaction to a report from the Commerce Department, which said the nation's trade deficit narrowed more than expected in June, suggesting trade was less of a drag on second-quarter economic growth than previously thought. Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan hiked their prior and current-quarter growth expectations on the heels of the report.
"Investors are trying to coordinate the fear of geopolitical concerns and how they affect the global economy with the improving U.S. economy and how that affects Fed monetary policy," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.