U.S. stocks eked out slight gains after a seesaw trading session Wednesday amid encouraging housing data.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 18.75 points, or 0.12 percent, to 16,198.41. The S&P 500 advanced 0.04 point, or less than 0.01 percent, to 1,845.16. The Nasdaq Composite Index moved up 4.48 points, or 0.10 percent, to 4,292.06.
Record closing high continued to elude the S&P 500, while the Nasdaq set a fresh high in about 14 years.
Posting a modest advance at the open, the market accelerated rising after the U.S. Commerce Department reported that new home sales surged 9.6 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 468,000 units, the highest since July 2008, far exceeding market consensus.
However, the market gave up most of its earlier gains as investors took a breather after continued rebounding on Wall Street recently.
In corporate news, U.S. home improvement retailer Lowe's Companies on Wednesday reported a 6.3-percent increase in net earnings for the fourth quarter, and its quarterly sales also rose 5.6 percent to 11.7 billion U.S. dollars. Lowe's shares climbed 5. 43 percent to 50.72 dollars apiece.
Meanwhile, shares of Target Corporation soared 7.04 percent to 60.49 dollars, as the U.S. retailer published adjusted fourth- quarter profit that beat analysts' expectations before the opening bell.
However, Target said its results "softened meaningfully" following a data breach in December.
Shortly after the closing bell, J. C. Penney reported a narrower-than-expected loss in the fourth quarter and issued positive sale guidance in the first quarter. The troubled retailer 's shares ticked up in after-hours trading.
Investors are also looking forward to U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's postponed testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, due on Thursday.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered as a fear gauge of the market, climbed up 4.97 percent to end at 14.35 Wednesday.
In other markets, the U.S. dollar rose across the board as encouraging U.S. housing data raised expectations that the Fed will keep reducing its bond purchases.
In late New York trading, the euro fell to 1.3684 dollars from 1.3743 dollars of the previous session. The greenback bought 102. 46 Japanese yen, higher than 102.17 yen of the previous session.
Oil prices rose Wednesday as U.S. crude supplies increased less than expected last week. Light, sweet crude for April delivery moved up 76 cents to settle at 102.59 U.S. dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for April delivery gained 1 cent to close at 109.52 dollars a barrel.
U.S. crude stockpiles rose 0.1 million barrels to 362.4 million barrels last week, according to Energy Information Administration (EIA), missing market expectation of a 1.28-million-barrel increase.
Gold futures dropped on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, the first drop in the past four gold trading sessions.
The most active gold contract for April delivery dropped 14.7 dollars, or 1.09 percent, to settle at 1,328 dollars per ounce.