It was as if Wall Street had already jumped in the car and headed off to Grandma's yesterday.
The market was subdued the day before the Thanksgiving holiday, with stocks holding on to small gains at the close.
Volume was low and trading was choppy in a session dominated by data. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average were flat, and the Nasdaq added 0.26%.
The latest read on the oil sector helped crude prices to back off of steep losses to trade slightly higher. West Texas Intermediate crude recovered a level above $43 a barrel, closing 0.4% higher at $43.04. Data showed U.S. inventories adding a smaller-than-expected number of barrels in the past week, while the number of active oil rigs in the U.S. fell.
Conflicting economic data out on Wednesday suggested a two-speed U.S. economy, though most analysts agreed it was not enough for the Federal Reserve to postpone an assumed rate hike in December. Durable-goods orders in the U.S. rose 3% in October, climbing for the first time in three months, while consumer spending remained weak, the second consecutive month of tepid growth.
"Overall, [consumer spending was] a disappointing release that won't help the Fed justify a liftoff -- although we don't expect it will prevent them from moving forward with the hike in December," said CRT Capital analyst Ian Lyngen in a note.
New home sales in the U.S. rebounded in October, jumping 10.7% from September to an annual rate of 495,000. Sales have been under pressure as higher prices kept first home buyers at bay.
The number of new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell by 12,000 to 260,000 in the past week, according to the Labor Department. The measure remains near 15-year lows. Analysts had expected jobless claims to tick up 1,000 to 272,000.
Costco (COST - Get Report) joined Chipotle (CMG - Get Report) in an E.coli outbreak after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the retailer's rotisserie chicken salad had been linked to illnesses in seven states. Five people have been taken to the hospital, but no deaths have been reported. Chipotle has been ensconced in its own E.coli outbreak that has affected locations in six states.
In earnings news, Deere (DE - Get Report) jumped after cost cuts helped the company beat quarterly earnings estimates. However, the results were much weaker than a year earlier as the company faces weaker global demand for construction and farm equipment. Sales tumbled 25% to $6.72 billion.
HP Inc (HPQ - Get Report) , the newly standalone printing and personal computing business, fell more than 5% after reporting weak fourth-quarter sales. Revenue tumbled 15%, while earnings of 93 cents a share were on the weak side of a forecast range of 92 cents to 98 cents a share.
Newly spun-off Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) climbed 3% after forecasting better-than-expected fiscal 2016 results. The company expects full-year profit between 75 cents and 85 cents a share, above estimates of 74 cents.