The president intends to meet with Senate leaders after a failed effort with the House last week.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks were little changed after markets were closed for Christmas yesterday, as President Obama heads to Washington to face the Senate in sorting the so-called fiscal cliff before the year-end deadline.
The president will need to make progress over the next five days. Failure to do so would trigger tax increases and spending cuts, a combination that could put the economy into a recession. Congress will return Dec. 27, while Obama travels to Washington from a vacation in Hawaii today.
Obama, even with a decisive re-election victory last month, has had a tough time dealing with the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Speaker John Boehner's "Plan B," a compromise on raising taxes for the wealthy, was throttled by his own party, raising concerns Democrats and Republicans will be locked in battle as they have been in the past four years.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 4 points, or 0.03%, to 13,143.05.
Winners and losers were tied at 15. The biggest gainers were Hewlett Packard(:HPQ), Alcoa(:AA) and Intel(:INTC).
Microsoft(:MSFT) and UnitedHealth(:UNH) were the Dow's largest decliners.
The S&P 500 fell 2.13 points, or 0.15%, to 1,424.53. The Nasdaq dropped 9.18 points, or 0.3%, to 3,003.42.
The economic calendar in the U.S. Wednesday includes the Redbook, a measure of sales at chain stores, discounters, and department stores, as well as the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index.
National chain-store sales were little changed in the first four weeks of December from November, according to Redbook Research's latest indicator. Economists had expected a 0.2% gain.
The S&P/Case-Shiller index of real estate values in 20 cities climbed 4.3% in October from a year earlier, the largest leap since May 2010.
Gold for February delivery was up $1.70 at $1,660 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while February crude oil contracts were up $2.31 to $90.92 a barrel.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury was trading at 1.75%, down 2 basis points. The U.S. dollar index was at 79.61.
In corporate news, Intel rose 12 cents, or 0.6% to $20.76 after IDC's Semiconductor Applications Forecaster said chip revenue will increase 4.9% to $319 billion in 2013, jumping to $368 billion in 2016.
Netflix(:NFLX) rose 24 cents, or 0.2%, to $90.47. The company's video-streaming service suffered a Christmas Eve outage that continued into Christmas morning for some customers.
In Twitter posts, Netflix said problems at Amazon.com(:AMZN) were the cause. Amazon provides Internet services to Netflix and other corporate customers.
Facebook(:FB) had been the most active stock in pre-market trading. Options traders are bullish on the stock after investment bank Needham & Co. raised its price target on its belief that mobile-revenue growth will be stronger than expected. Facebook shares dropped 12 cents, or 0.5%, to $26.81 after rising as much as 0.7% earlier in the day.
Apple's(:AAPL) stores were packed in the days leading up to Christmas, boding well for the holiday-shopping quarter. The stock dropped $6.51, or 1.3%, to $513.66.
Less fortunate was Microsoft(:MSFT), whose stores were mostly empty. The shares decreased 23 cents, or 0.9%, to $26.83.
-- Written by Parris Kellermann
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