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Stocks Close Flat; Dow Briefly Tops 13,000

Stocks finished narrowly mixed in choppy trading Tuesday, pressured by steep oil prices and as investors were quick to book profits following a deal announcement in Greece.

The Dow briefly broke through the key 13,000 level for the first time since May 2008, but failed to close above the milestone.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average eked out a small gain of 15.82 points, or 0.12 percent, to end at 12,965.69, after rallying to the psychologically-important 13,000 level for the first time in almost four years earlier in the session.

Wal-Mart was the biggest laggard on the blue-chip index, while Chevron and Alcoa gained.

The S&P 500 added 0.98 points, or 0.07 percent, to finish at 1,362.21. The Nasdaq slipped 3.21 points, or 0.11 percent, to close at 2,948.57. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, closed above 18.

Among the key S&P sectors, energy ended higher, while health care slipped.

“You may get some people saying: ‘We’re back to where we were several years ago and maybe we can move on from here,’” said Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS Financial Services. “I’d like to hope that’s true, but so far, it’s all psychology and there’s no following through—there was no burst of enthusiasm that followed [13,000].”

Euro zone finance ministers sealed a 130 billion euro ($172 billion) bailout for Greece to avert a default in March, after persuading private bondholders to take greater losses and the Greek government to commit to deep cuts.

However, European shares closed lowerafter hitting seven-month highs in the previous session, with strategists saying the focus would now turn to the bleak outlook for Greece's economy after the country secured a bailout package.

“We’re now seeing a cautious market that’s been expecting a closure to the Greek deal and a market that’s confronted with other problems," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital.

Still, Cardillo said he sees stocks moving higher going forward.

“The longer investors wait to re-enter the market, the greater the possibility will be of missing another shot at a bull run,” he said, adding he expects improving economic growth in the U.S.

Oil prices settled at a 9-month highamid supply disruptions. Oil giants including ExxonMobil and Chevron edged higher, while the soaring fuel prices sent airline stocks lower, with U.S. Airways and Delta Airlines tumbling almost 10 percent each.

Among earnings, Home Depot gained after the home improvement retailer posted earnings that beat estimates.

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart tumbled after the big-box retailers reported earnings that were below expectations as the firm cut prices to lure more shoppers during the holiday season. Meanwhile, S&P Capital IQ lowered its rating on the firm to "buy" from "strong buy."

And fellow Dow component Kraft posted results that met forecasts.

Macy's rallied after the department store chain posted earnings that topped estimatesand said it expects further sales gains this year.

Dell and Chesapeake Energy are among firms to post earnings after-the-bell tonight.

General Electric gained after at least two brokerages raised its price target on the parent company of NBCUniversal.

Comcast announced it will be unveiling a video-streaming service called Xfinity Streampix, available to existing customers for $4.99 a month, in an aim to grab market share from Netflix .

Pfizer said it is exploring partnerships with more Chinese drug companies as the pharmaceuticals giant plans to sell more of its off-patent products in the Chinese market.

Treasury prices held their lossesafter the government auctioned $35 billion in two-year notes at a high yield of 0.310 percent and bid-to-cover of 3.54.

—Follow JeeYeon Park on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC

Coming Up This Week:

WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps, existing home sales, 5-yr note auction; Earnings from Dollar Tree, TJX, Toll Brothers, Hewlett-Packard
THURSDAY: Jobless claims, FHFA home price index, oil inventories, 7-yr note auction, Apple shareholders meeting; Earnings from Hormel, Kohl's Target, AIG, Gap
FRIDAY: Consumer sentiment, new home sales; Earnings from JCPenney

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