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U.S. stocks gave up early gains to trade little changed Wednesday, pausing after two sessions of declines.

The S&P 500 was nearly flat at 2099. The index had risen 10 points earlier in the session.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained four points, or 0.1%, to 4981.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 19 points, or 0.1%, to 18049. The Dow was pressured by DuPont Co, whose shares fell 6.2%. DuPont defeated Trian Fund Management L.P.’s campaign to land board seats, as shareholders re-elected all of DuPont’s sitting directors.

Eurozone data indicated a modest economic recovery is in place. Eurozone growth in the first three months of the year expanded at its fastest pace in almost two years, data showed Wednesday. It was the first time since the first half of 2010 that all four of the region’s largest economies recorded growth. European stocks gave up earlier gains. Germany’s DAX turned lower, down 0.8%.

Investors are watching for signs that economic growth is picking up, both in the U.S., after a slow start to the year, and overseas. Wednesday’s eurozone data suggested the European Central Bank’s stimulus program is helping jump-start growth. Strong economic growth brightens the outlook for corporate profits and stock-market returns.

“If you put all the data points together, coupled with stimulus coming out from central banks globally, it suggests that global demand should pick up,” said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial. “If demand picks up, even at the margin, it’s a net positive for multinationals,” she added.

In U.S. economic news, the Commerce Department said Wednesday U.S. retail sales were flat in April at $436.8 billion. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected a 0.2% increase in April. Retail sales in March were revised to 1.1% growth from 0.9% previously.

Investors said that while Wednesday’s retail sales report was disappointing, it did little to shift their full-year views. Many of the factors weighing on growth at the start of the year, such as the West Coast port strike and harsh weather, are likely to prove temporary.

“If our view here is right, and pent-up demand leads to stronger U.S. growth in the back half of this year, you can still end up with a strong year of global growth, especially if Europe continues on this path,” said Joseph Tanious, investment strategist for Bessemer Trust, which oversees about $105 billion. “That ultimately bodes well for risk assets, ” he added. Mr. Tanious said he expects stocks to gain this year, but at a slower pace than in recent years.

John Brady, managing director at futures brokerage R.J. O’Brien, said he expects the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this year even after the soft retail sales reading. “Even though the economy is growing sluggishly, we shouldn’t be at zero percent life support,” he said, referring to interest rates. The Fed has held short-term rates near zero since December 2008.

Asian stocks were mixed Wednesday, though moves were muted. Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average rose 0.7%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index lost 0.6%. The Shanghai Composite fell 0.6%.

Treasury prices climbed, pushing the yield on the 10-year Treasury down to 2.238% from 2.256% on Tuesday. Yields fall as prices rise.

In commodity markets, crude-oil futures gained 0.2% to $60.89 a barrel. Gold futures rose 1.7% to $1212.90 an ounce.

In corporate news, pipeline giant Williams Cos. agreed to acquire Williams Partners L.P. in an all-equity transaction that values Williams Partners at about $33 billion. Shares of Williams Cos. rose 5.5% and those of Williams Partners jumped 22%.