A trader works on the floor of the New York...

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange at the end of the first trading session of 2012. (Jan. 3, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

Stocks barely budged Wednesday, as investors held on to their gains from a strong opening to the year.

Strong December sales helped the stocks of automakers and specialty stores. Banks, health care companies and utilities fell slightly. Netflix surged after its first good news in months.

But nothing else moved much. The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 21.04 points, or 0.17 percent, to close at 12,418.42. The Dow opened the year with a 180-point gain Tuesday, which brought it to the highest level since July.

"At least thus far in 2012 we haven't followed the path of 2011, where if it's a good day, there's a bad day right away," said Ryan Detrick, senior technical analyst with Schaeffer's Investment Research.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index and Nasdaq also had big gains Tuesday but only moved a fraction of a point a day later. The S&P inched up 0.24 to close at 1,277.30. The Nasdaq fell 0.36 to 2,648.36.

In other corporate news, fallen photography pioneer Eastman Kodak Co., based in Rochester, fell 18 cents to 47 cents after The Wall Street Journal, quoting people familiar with the matter, reported it is preparing a bankruptcy filing in case its efforts to sell some of its patents fail. -- AP

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