Stocks ended near session highs Wednesday, but still closed narrowly mixed, as worries over the euro zone and declines in the energy sector limited gains.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 13.02 points, or 0.10 percent, to close at 12,449.45, led by Disney and Coca-Cola .
BofA and Alcoa led the blue-chip gainers.
The S&P 500 eked out a gain of 0.40 points, or 0.03 percent, to end at 1,292.48. The Nasdaq added 8.26 points, or 0.31 percent, to finish at 2,710.76, logging a five-day winning streak.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, closed near 21.
Among key S&P sectors, energy slipped, while banks and materials rallied.
“If you look at where we were last year, we had the European problems, China slowing down and the U.S. economy faltering…Now, Europe and China are still problems, but the U.S. economy is firming,” said Rick Fier, vice president of equity trading at Conifer Securities. “While we’re not out of the woods at all, the one good thing is that [the strengthening U.S. economy] should put a floor in the market.”
The euro dipped below $1.27 against the U.S. greenback, falling to a 16-month low, after ratings agency Fitch urged the ECB to ramp up buying of euro zone debt to prevent a "cataclysmic" collapse of the euro. European shares also ended lower.
Meanwhile, France has not been informed of any imminent decision on its credit rating downgrade, according to sources from the French Treasury.
Investors will be watching two key bond auctions in Spain and Italy on Thursday.
Earlier, Germany reported figures that showed its economy shrank in the last quarter of 2011, dampening hopes of an improvement in the economy.