NEW YORK (AP) - Stocks were mixed in afternoon trading Tuesday, as investors waited to hear from the Federal Reserve.
Good news on the U.S. economy, including a blockbuster jobs report and a budget deal in Washington, appear to increase the likelihood that the Fed could dial back its huge bond-buying program as early as this week. Investors find out Wednesday, at the end of the Fed's two-day policy meeting.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average edged up eight points, or 0.1 percent, to 15,893 as of 3:15 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell three points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,783. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite rose less than a point, or 0.01 percent, to 4,029.
'LIKE' THE HIGH: Facebook hit a record high of $55.18 after it tested video advertisements for users' news feeds, a potential source of revenue. The stock debuted at $38 a share in May 2012.
POSTING GAINS: 3M was a top gainer in the Dow. Its stock climbed $3.77, or 3 percent, to $131.43 after the maker of Post-it notes raised its dividend 35 percent. The company also forecast solid earnings next year.
THE FED EFFECT: The stock market has surged this year as the Fed keeps buying $85 billion in bonds every month to keep long-term interest rates low. The economy has steadily improved and companies have been making more money. That has helped push the S&P 500 index up almost 25 percent, putting it on track for its best performance in a decade.
ROOM FOR OPTIMISM: The strong economy and healthy earnings provide a good backdrop for stocks, says Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab. "Dips that we get are not going to be terribly severe," Sonders says.
NO CORRECTION: The S&P 500 has gone without a correction, defined as a decline of 10 to 20 percent, since October 2011.
BIGGEST WINNERS: Frontier Communications rose the most in the S&P 500. Shares surged 42 cents, or 10 percent, to $4.82 after the company reached a deal to acquire AT&T's fixed-line business in Connecticut for about $2 billion.
AND LOSERS: Delta Air Lines fell the most, down 91 cents, or 3 percent, to $27.
FLAT PRICES: U.S. consumer prices remained flat in November, held down by falling gas prices. The consumer price index fell 0.1 percent in October.
OTHER MARKETS: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note dropped to 2.84 percent from 2.88 percent on Monday. The price of gold fell $13.70, or 1 percent, to $1,230.70 an ounce.
ON DECK: The Fed will also release economic projections and hold a news conference on Wednesday. Several big U.S. companies are due to report quarterly earnings this week, including FedEx, Oracle Corp and Neiman Marcus.