NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The S&P 500 drifted upward to mark a new intraday high on Wednesday as volume remained low on the day before Thanksgiving. Just over the midway point of Wednesday's session, volume was 70% lower than the full session a day earlier with about 180 million shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.01%, while the S&P added 0.18%, marking a new intraday high.
Jobless claims were 313,000 for the week ended Nov. 22, according to the Labor Department, above 300,000 for the first time since September and higher than economists' estimates of 288,000.
"That was a little surprising, but the four-week average is still below [300,000]," said Tom Sudyka, portfolio manager of LK Balanced Fund, in a call. The moving average has remained below that mark for nearly three months. "Week-to-week it's kind of hard to track on that but as long as the average stays below I think we're probably OK there. It's so volatile and gets revised a lot."
New home sales climbed 0.7% in October to a 458,000 annualized rate, lower than an estimated 470,000. Pending home sales for October were down 1.1% from September, compared to an expected 0.6% increase.
Consumer sentiment, though at a seven-year high, fell slightly from preliminary readings. Personal income in October gained 0.2%, while consumer spending climbed 0.2%. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected consumer spending to have increased 0.3% with personal income up 0.4%.
Oil prices were in focus as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries arrives for a meeting in Vienna to determine whether to restrain oil production for the first time since December 2008. West Texas Intermediate crude tanked 2.5% to fall below $74 a barrel on Tuesday as individual talks between Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Russia and Mexico failed to produce a solution. Since midyear, crude prices have fallen more than 30% from a high of $107 a barrel.
"Our outlook for crude oil remains constructive, but OPEC may be disinclined to deeply and immediately slash its production," said Paul Christopher, chief international strategist at Wells Fargo, in a report. "We think Riyadh worries that civil wars in Libya and across the Syria-Iraq border could abruptly curtail oil production by up to four million barrels per day, an amount exceeding this year's extra global production."
Wells Fargo reduced its year-end 2015 projections for West Texas Intermediate crude to between $88 and $92 a barrel, from a previous forecast of $97 to $102 a barrel.
Deere (DE) - Get Report shares were down nearly 1% after quarterly revenue fell 5% to $8.97 billion. Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) - Get Report climbed 4% even as fourth-quarter sales marked their 12th decline in the last 13 quarters.
China-based travel site Ctrip.com (CTRP) - Get Report tanked almost 10% after management gave forecasts for 30% growth in the fourth quarter, below consensus of 32.5%. Analog Devices (ADI) - Get Report added 5.6%. The company provided first-quarter earnings guidance as high as 64 cents a share, 2 cents above analysts' forecasts.
-- Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.