U.S. stocks closed mixed Wednesday after a quiet trading day that left the indexes little changed.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 45.57 points, or 0.3 percent, to 13,124.62. It had been up 20 shortly after the opening bell. The Dow had its biggest loss in two weeks on Tuesday, falling 68.94 points.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index closed down 2.63 points, or 0.2 percent, at 1,402.89. The Nasdaq composite average closed up 1.17 at 3,075.32.
Hewlett-Packard led the Dow lower, sliding 2.2 percent after saying it would combine its printer and PC divisions to save money and improve efficiency. HP is coping with declining sales of PCs and printer ink as smartphones, tablets and electronic document-sharing gain popularity.
Earlier Wednesday, the National Association of Realtors released a mixed report about the state of the housing market. Sales of previously occupied homes dipped last month, but the sales pace for the winter was the best in five years, NAR said. Housing has been dragging on the economic recovery; an oversupply of homes has decimated construction and other trades in many parts of the country.
Without strongly positive or negative news to move the market, stocks meandered sideways for most of the day. John Manley, chief equity strategist for Wells Fargo Advantage Funds, said the lack of market-moving events is generally good for stocks. Traders are increasingly confident that the risks hanging over the market from Europe, oil prices and China will blow over, he said.
"If it hasn't happened today, that means it might not happen tomorrow," Manley said. "My guess is, no news means a slight upward bias to the market."