Stock Market Today: S&P 500 Finishes Above 100-Day Moving Average as Financials Lead

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stock indices settled near the flat line Wednesday, with the S&P 500 finishing above its 100-day moving average and fueling hopes of another near-term pop.

The broad-based index had been flirting with the widely watched 1910 support level all day after investors were faced with negative geopolitical and economic news and speculation of an earlier-than-expected interest rate hike.

"We have come down here over the past three or four sessions. By successfully holding these levels again ... we're probably headed for a short-term rally," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.08% to 16,443.34. The S&P 500 was flat at 1,920.24. The Nasdaq was up 0.05% to 4,355.05.

Key sectors finished mixed. Financials, basic materials, consumer staples and energy closed higher as Bank of America (BAC) surged 1.33% to $15.20 after the company increased its quarterly common stock dividend to 5 cents a share from 1 cent. Countercyclical groups such as telecom services and utilities trailed the broader market as AT&T (T) retreated 1.4% to $34.62. Telecom M&A excitement died down Wednesday after Sprint (S) indicated that it would end its run at T-Mobile (TMUS).

Time Warner (TWX) shares tumbled 12.85% to $74.24 Wednesday as Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox (FOXA) withdrew its $80 billion cash-and-stock acquisition offer. Fox on the other hand popped 3.29% to $32.33.

Factory orders have been suffering in Europe's largest economy, a situation that Berlin's Economics Ministry blames on geopolitical developments and risks. These factors have led to a "certain holding back" on orders.

Elsewhere, the eurozone's third-largest economy, Italy, slumped back into a recession during the second quarter. GDP was down 0.2% from the first quarter.

News that Russia has amassed 20,000 combat-ready troops -- reportedly special forces as well as troops with armor, artillery and air defense capabilities -- on its eastern border with Ukraine raised concerns about imminent military intervention Wednesday.

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas president Richard Fisher told Fox Business Network Tuesday evening that the central bank could hike interest rates earlier than the widely expected mid-2015 target if U.S. economic data continue to strengthen.

The Census Bureau reported on Wednesday that the U.S. trade deficit shrank to $41.5 billion in June, compared with the average estimate of $45.2 billion.

-- By Andrea Tse in New York

Follow @AndreaTTse

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