U.S. stocks ended nearly flat in a holiday-shortened trading session on Wednesday, a day after the Dow Jones Industrial Average broke the 18,000-point mark for the first time on upbeat U.S. GDP data.
Riding the Santa Claus rally, both the Dow and the S&P 500 set new record peaks of 18,086.24 points and 2,087.56 points before paring early gains to close almost flat, while the Nasdaq Composite Index rebounded from Tuesday's decline.
At the close, the Dow inched up 6.04 points, or 0.03 percent, to 18,030.21. The S&P 500 edged down 0.29 point, or 0.01 percent, to 2,081.88. The Nasdaq gained 8.05 points, or 0.17 percent, to 4, 773.47.
On the economic front, in the week ending Dec. 20, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 280,000, a decrease of 9,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 289, 000, said the U.S. Labor Department on Wednesday.
Real gross domestic product (GDP) of the country increased 5.0 percent in the third quarter of this year, its fastest pace in 11 years, up from the second quarter's 4.6-percent growth, according to the final estimate released by the U.S. Commerce Department Tuesday. The latest figure came out well above analysts' expectations.
U.S. stocks ended at 1:00 p.m. local time on Wednesday and will be closed on Thursday for Christmas.
The CBOE Volatility Index, often referred to as Wall Street's fear gauge, fell 2.91 percent to end at 14.37 on Wednesday.
In other markets, oil prices dropped Wednesday as government report showed that U.S. crude supplies increased more than expected.
Light, sweet crude for February delivery lost 1.28 U.S. dollars to settle at 55.84 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for February delivery decreased 1.45 dollars to close at 60.24 dollars a barrel.
The U.S. dollar went down against most major currencies on Wednesday after its sharp gain in the previous session.
In late New York trading, the euro increased to 1.2200 dollars from 1.2178 dollars in the previous session, while the greenback bought 120.46 Japanese yen, lower than 120.73 yen of the previous session.
Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange fell Wednesday on positive U.S. job data.
The most active gold contract for February delivery decreased 4. 5 dollars, or 0.38 percent, to settle at 1,173.50 dollars per ounce.