* Lenders fail to reach deal for Greece
* Investors remain wary of fiscal cliff impact
* Volume expected to be light ahead of Thursday's holiday
* Dow up 0.2 pct, S&P off 0.03 pct, Nasdaq up 0.1 pct
By Leah Schnurr
NEW YORK, Nov 21 U.S. stocks were little changed
on Wednesday as a lack of progress on some of the potential
pitfalls facing the market kept investors cautious.
Greece's international lenders failed again to reach a deal
to release emergency aid to the debt-saddled country. Lenders
will try again next Monday, but Germany signalled that
significant divisions remain.
Investors also remained anxious about the tax and spending
changes that are poised to come into effect in the new year -
known as the "fiscal cliff" - though policymakers are not
expected to get back to negotiations until after Thursday's
Trading volume was expected to be light ahead of Thursday's
market holiday, which could keep action muted. The stock market
also will close early at 1 p.m. (1800 GMT) on Friday.
Fears that the fiscal cliff discusions in Washington could
be drawn out or yield no resolution have been at the forefront
of investors' minds in recent weeks. Combined with concerns over
the euro zone's continued debt problems, the worries had taken
more than 5 percent off the S&P 500 since Election Day in early
Positive comments from U.S. politicians that they will work
to find common ground have helped the index recoup some of that
loss in recent sessions.
"I think the focus is heavy on what are we doing about
fiscal cliff," said Kurt Brunner, portfolio manager at
Swarthmore Group in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
"Are these guys talking? Are there going to be substantive
St Jude Medical lost more than 12 percent after
Wells Fargo cut its rating to "market perform", saying an FDA
inspection report cited serious flaws in the company's design
verification and validation methods for its Durata line of heart
devices. The stock was recently at $31.07.
A small gain in International Business Machines
helped the Dow outperform the other indexes. IBM was up 0.7
percent at $190.51.
The Dow Jones industrial average added 25.11 points,
or 0.20 percent, to 12,813.62. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was off 0.39 point, or 0.03 percent, to 1,387.42. The
Nasdaq Composite Index edged up 2.03 points, or 0.07
percent, at 2,918.72.
Salesforce.com Inc jumped 8 percent to $157.57 after
the business software provider beat Wall Street expectations for
the third quarter and maintained its outlook for the rest of the
But Deere & Co dragged on the S&P after the world's
largest farm equipment maker reported a weaker-than-expected
quarterly profit. Its stock lost 4.3 percent to $82.28.
The market did not derive much direction from the day's
economic data with initial jobless claims falling last week as
Other data showed manufacturing picked up at its quickest
pace in five months in November, while consumer sentiment
improved only slightly.
The focus will likely turn to retailers on Friday as
analysts try to assess how strong the holiday shopping season
will be this year, Brunner said. Holiday shopping traditionally
kicks off the day after Thanksgiving as stores offer deals and
discounts to lure consumers.