The market's longer-term direction will likely hinge on U.S. leaders' ability to attack the fiscal challenge between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Frederick said.

"If they can put some sort of a plan together, or make us believe they have a plan, or at least that there's some cooperation going on there, that could be a real boost for the market," he said.

Among big companies making news, Intel's CEO of seven years announced that he will retire in May. The stock rose 6 cents to $20.25.

Diamond Foods hit its lowest price since September 2006 after an analyst cut the snack food company's rating and price target. Diamond restated two years' worth of financial results last Wednesday, effectively wiping $56.5 million in profit from its books. Diamond fell $1.79, or 11.8 percent, to $13.34.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. rose after an analyst said that the stock could see an "early 2013 bounce." He said investor concerns about the company's solvency were overblown and caused traders to oversell. AMD rose 6 cents, or 3.2 percent, to $1.92.

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Daniel Wagner can be reached at www.twitter.com/wagnerreports .

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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