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Stocks Close Mixed as GE, Comcast Shares Jump


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Major U.S. stock averages closed mixed Wednesday as the Dow wavered, and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq advanced amid a jump in General Electric (GE) and Comcast(CMCSA) shares and upbeat eurozone industrial output data.

U.S. retail sales in January, released earlier Wednesday, came in as expected.

General Electric shares gained 3.6% as Comcast reached a deal to buy GE's remaining 49% stake in NBCUniversal for $16.7 billion.

Comcast also raised its quarterly dividend by 20% and reported an 18% increase in fourth-quarter earnings. Comcast shares jumped 3%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 36 points, or 0.3%, to 13,983, dragged lower by companies including McDonald's(MCD) , Merck(MRK) and Coca-Cola(KO) .

Overall breadth was slightly positive, as winners outnumbered losers 15 to 13. Top percentage blue-chip gainers included GE, Procter & Gamble (PG) , Alcoa(AA) and Cisco(CSCO) .

The S&P 500 rose about 1 point to 1,520. The index touched its highest level since November 2007 at an intraday high of more than 1,524.

The Nasdaq gained 10 points, or 0.3%, to 3,197.

Most sectors in the broader market were in the green. Industry leaders included conglomerates and transportation. The consumer cyclical sector was sinking the most, followed by financials.

Volumes totaled 3.36 billion shares on the New York Stock Exchange and 1.81 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers outpaced decliners by a ratio of 1.4-to-1 on the Big Board and 1.2-to-1 on the Nasdaq.

With the Dow and S&P 500 managing to close at fresh five-year highs Tuesday, many market participants were watching for a near-term retreat.

"With 2013 getting off to a fast start and the S&P 500 posting its best monthly January return since 1997, many investors are now calling for a near-term price correction in the broader market," said Craig Johnson, a senior technical research analyst at Piper Jaffray. "However, we believe the broader market will likely experience one more 'hop' before we get a 'drop' and then a 'pop.'"

President Barack Obama delivered lines Tuesday night in his State of the Union address about how the country has emerged from the rubble of economic crisis, his hope to allow families to more easily refinance their homes and the need for deficit reduction, among other economic issues.

And yet Obama didn't once mention Wall Street, banks or finance .

The Census Bureau reported that retail sales rose by an as-expected 0.1% in January after increasing 0.5% in December. Excluding the auto component, retail sales increased 0.2%, compared with a 0.3% gain in December. That was a bigger increase than the 0.1% advance expected by economists.

Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak, said that, within 13 categories, sales declined across seven and advanced within six. The largest gains were seen in general merchandisers and non-store retailers, which together make up of 22% of total sales.