WASHINGTON -- Stocks barely budged Wednesday, letting investors hold on to their gains from a strong opening to the year a day earlier.

Strong December sales boosted carmakers and specialty retailers on Wednesday. Banks, health care companies and utilities fell slightly, but nothing moved much.

"It's healthy to see that after a big rally," said Randy Warren of Warren Financial Service. "People need to sit back and think about it."

--The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 21.04, or 0.2 percent, to close at 12,418.42.

--The S&P 500 index inched up 0.24 of a point to close at 1,277.30.

--The Nasdaq composite edged down 0.36 to 2,648.36.

IRS pushes tax deadline back 2 days to April 17

WASHINGTON -- Does the mere mention of April 15 send chills up your spine? Not to worry -- the Internal Revenue Service has postponed this year's deadline for filing federal income taxes until two days later.

The IRS said Wednesday taxpayers will have until April 17 to file 2011 returns, thanks to two quirks of the calendar.

April 15 falls on a Sunday this year, and the following day is Emancipation Day, which is observed in the District of Columbia. By federal law, D.C. holidays affect tax deadlines the same as federal holidays, giving taxpayers an extra day. Extensions must be filed by Oct. 15.

Comcast, Disney reach long-term carriage deal

LOS ANGELES -- The Walt Disney Co. said Wednesday that it reached a long-term agreement with the nation's largest TV signal provider, Comcast, that extends their partnership into the next decade.

The carriage deal covers major pay channels ESPN, Disney Channel and ABC Family and the retransmission of free ABC broadcast network programs through seven ABC TV stations.

It allows Comcast subscribers to gain greater access to shows on demand over the Internet on multiple devices. Terms were not disclosed.