The Dow rose 45.85 points, or 0.17% to close at 26,833.95. The S&P 500 climbed 0.28% to end the day at 3,004.52. The Nasdaq Composite gained 0.19% to 8,119.79 The major averages struggled for direction as the corporate earnings season rolled on.
Both Caterpillar and Boeing reported quarterly numbers that badly missed analyst expectations. Caterpillar said dealers reducing inventories hurt its results, noting that "global economic uncertainty" from trade tension could make this weakness persist. Boeing, meanwhile, reported a profit drop of more than 50% on a year-over year basis for the quarter. However, Caterpillar shares rose 1.23% while Boeing traded higher for most of the day. Wednesday's moves took place under surprisingly low volume. The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY), which tracks the S&P 500, saw volume well below its 30-day volume average.
Texas Instruments shares slid 7.48% on weaker-than-expected results. Those numbers also pressured the broader chipmaker space. The VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF (SMH) dropped 1.8%. NXP Semiconductor and ON Semiconductor were among the ETFs worst performers; they dropped 4.24% and 3.58%, respectively.
Thursday marks the busiest day of the earnings season, with 45 S&P 500 companies scheduled to report. Amazon, Visa, Intel, 3M and Twitter are among the companies set to release their results. In Europe, the European Central Bank will hold its last meeting with Mario Draghi at the helm. Read more here.