Stocks ended narrowly mixed in lackluster trading on the final day of November, as investors were reluctant to make big bets ahead of the weekend amid ongoing "fiscal cliff" discussions.
Stocks have been choppy in the recent weeks as investors reacted to a chain of mixed remarks from lawmakers in Washington on the progress of the fiscal cliff talks.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average eked out a gain of 3.76 points to close at 13,025.04 in volatile trading. Wal-Mart [WMT 72.02 1.19 (+1.68%) ] gained, while Microsoft [MSFT 26.615 -0.335 (-1.24%) ] lagged.
The S&P 500 squeezed out a gain of 0.23 points to end at 1,416.25, while the Nasdaq slipped 1.79 points, to finish at 3,010.24. Both indexes ended in positive territory for the month. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, finished near 16.
For the month, the Dow slipped 0.55 percent, while the S&P 500 rose 0.29 percent, and the Nasdaq rallied 1.11 percent. Intel [INTC 19.565 0.035 (+0.18%) ] was the worst monthly performer on the Dow, while Cisco [CSCO 18.91 -0.10 (-0.53%) ] soared.
For the month, utilities lagged, while consumer discretionaries gained.
"This is still a market that's focused on headlines from Washington," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial. "But you're not seeing any big selloffs given all the headlines, so investors suspect that despite headlines suggesting the gulf is widening between the two parties, negotiations are still going on behind the scenes."
President Obama traveled to a factory Pennsylvania to press his case on raising taxes on the wealthy to narrow the deficit. The president is still negotiating with Republicans on how to avoid the steep automatic tax increases and spending cuts that will kick in soon without a deal. (Read More: Millions at Risk of 'AMT Shock')
Source: CNBC.com | JeeYeon Park