NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks drifted in light volume on Wednesday, ending little changed, as investors remained cautious after the S&P 500 index briefly hit its highest intraday level since November 2007.
The S&P 500 was buoyed by General Electric
Comcast's stock hit the highest since 1999 before closing up 3 percent at $40.13 and GE gained 3.6 percent to $23.39.
The S&P 500 is up 6.6 percent so far this year, partly due to stronger-than-expected corporate earnings and a better economic outlook. The Dow industrials is about 1 percent away from an all-time intraday high, reached in October 2007.
Volume has been weak in recent days with the S&P moving sideways around 1,520. The index is about 3 percent away from closing at a record high.
A scarcity of sellers after a consistent string of gains is a positive sign and shows the uptrend is intact, King Lip, chief investment officer at Baker Avenue Asset Management in San Francisco, said.
"Last year we had double-digit returns in the first quarter. It's fairly possible we can move higher from here," he said.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> fell 35.79 points or 0.26 percent, to 13,982.91, the S&P 500 <.spx> gained 0.9 point or 0.06 percent, to 1,520.33 and the Nasdaq Composite <.ixic> added 10.38 points or 0.33 percent, to 3,196.88.
The S&P gained 12 percent in the first three months of 2012.
Deere & Co
In extended trading, shares of technology bellwether Cisco Systems
Dr Pepper Snapple
Cliffs Natural Resources
According to the latest Thomson Reuters data, of the 364 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported results, 70.3 percent have exceeded analysts' expectations, above a 62 percent average since 1994 and 65 percent over the past four quarters.
About 5.9 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and NYSE MKT, below the daily average in February last year of 6.94 billion.
On the NYSE, roughly seven issues rose for every five that fell and on Nasdaq more than six rose for every five decliners.
(Editing by Kenneth Barry and Bernadette Baum)