US stocks have closed mixed as investors weighed softer-than-expected retail sales numbers against strong M&A activity and a small business report that showed optimism at its highest level since the GFC.
Despite the lacklustre trade, both the Dow and S&P 500 marginally bettered the record closing highs they set on Monday. It represented the third straight trading day record for the Dow.
At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 19.97 points, or 0.12%, to 16,715.44.
The broad-based S&P 500 iched up 0.80 of a point, or 0.04%, to 1,897.45 while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index bucked the trend to give up 13.69 points, or 0.33%, to 4,130.17.
Setting the tone for the flat session was a Commerce Department report that showed retail sales had limped to a 0.1% gain in April, sharply slower growth than the 1.5% seen in March and below expectations for 0.3%.
Offsetting this was a survey that showed confidence among small business owners at its highest level in over five years and continued signs of M&A action, the latest of which are expectations for a $US50 billion purchase of DirecTV by AT&T and the possibility of a play from The Coca-Cola Company for Keurig Green Mountain after the drinks giant declared its intentions to claim a 16% stake.
Offshore, European stocks received a strong boost as reports surfaced that Germany's central bank, the Bundesbank, was finally willing to back extraordinary new stimulus measures from the European Central Bank.