Wall Street drifts to another record in light trading
US stocks were little changed, with the S&P 500 creeping up to another record closing high in a lethargic session, though a number of retail stocks traded heavily after reporting results.
Both Tiffany & Co and apparel retailer Express Inc rose after posting quarterly revenue that topped expectations and raising their full-year profit views.
Shares of Tiffany rose 1 percent to $101.75 while Express jumped 12.7 percent to $16.45 on volume that easily eclipsed its 50-day average.
Best Buy Co Inc was the S&P 500's biggest percentage gainer, up 6.3 percent at $31.69. The electronics retailer rebounded from a 6.8 percent plunge on Tuesday after it forecast a drop in full-year sales.
The S&P retail index edged up 0.1 percent. After a sluggish start to the year, the index is up 8.4 percent for August, on pace for its best month since October 2011.
On the downside, apparel retailer Chico's FAS Inc fell 4.6 percent to $15.29 after its results.
Volume was depressed with some market participants on vacation ahead of the Labor Day long holiday weekend in the United States.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 15.31 points, or 0.09 percent, to 17,122.01. The S&P 500 gained 0.1 point, or 0.01 percent, to 2,000.12, and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.02 points, or 0.02 percent, to 4,569.62.
The S&P was slightly below the 2,000 mark as the closing bell rang, but it crept marginally higher to set a record close as trading settled, its 31st record close of the year.
Analog Devices Inc was one of the S&P 500's biggest decliners, off 2.3 percent at $51.03 a day after reporting third-quarter results.
Even so, the Nasdaq 100 notched its 11th straight advance, its longest winning streak in about 14 months.
Volume was thin, with about 4.05 billion shares traded on US exchanges, well below the 5.39 billion average so far this month, according to data from BATS Global Markets.
Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,705 to 1,305, while on the Nasdaq, decliners beat advancers 1,492 to 1,179.
European shares steadied near a one-month high, pausing after a 2-1/2-week rally, as a drop in German consumer morale and negative corporate news curbed appetite for stocks.
Declines in individual shares included UK grocers Sainsbury and Tesco, slipping 2.6 percent and 1.1 percent respectively after data from Kantar Worldpanel showed UK grocery market sales rose 0.8 percent in the 12 weeks to Aug. 17, a 10-year low.
And Seadrill, the world's biggest offshore driller by market capitalisation, fell 2.5 percent after its second-quarter earnings missed forecasts.
The impact of the Ukraine crisis and tensions between the West and Moscow were visible again in European company results on Wednesday. Marine Harvest, the world's largest salmon farmer, said it expected Russian sanctions to pose short-term challenges. Its shares fell 2 percent.
French stocks ended flat after recent sharp gains.
After the close yesterday, France's President Francois Hollande replaced his maverick leftist economy minister Arnaud Montebourg with Emmanuel Macron, a former Rothschild partner, in a reshuffle aimed at reconciling his efforts to revive the stagnant French economy and rein in the deficit.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index closed 1.36 points higher, or up 0.1 percent, at 1,378.19 points, after hitting a one-month peak earlier in the session, following a 6 percent rally since Aug 8. The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 dropped 0.1 percent, while Germany's DAX fell 0.2 percent.
Meanwhile, Japan's Nikkei share average edged up after US shares extended their gains and the S&P 500 closed above the 2,000 mark for the first time.
The Nikkei ended up about 0.1 percent at 15,534.82, after falling 0.6 percent on the previous day. The broader Topix also added about 0.1 percent at 1,285.92 after running into stiff chart resistance in the 1,290/1,300 zone where it has peaked a number of times in the past.