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Markets in the U.S. closed flat on Wednesday as investors postured their positions in anticipation of a push towards record highs. International investors were also holding back for the day while awaiting comments from the European Central Bank (ECB), which is due to hold a policy meeting on Thursday. Positive comments from the ECB indicating that the eurozone looks to be on the road to recovery may reinvigorate the early-year rally, but a more cautious tone may have some investors inclined to pull profits from the table following the January run. Given recent insights into a few of the zone's individual economies, such as Germany's - which many report a quarter of retraction - and Spain's - still struggling to find solid footing - comments to the tune of "we're not quite there yet" should be expected.

The key to all the Europe talk lately is that the media is again paying attention to developments over there, while they haven't been during the opening weeks of the new year. Since the European recovery is still lagging behind that of the U.S.', investors tuning into the news may entertain the fact that the markets are not yet stable enough to sustain near-record highs. Any surprises from the ECB either to the up or downside could lead to the U.S. markets trading in-line with those comments on Thursday, but it's more likely that U.S. investors will be more interested in the budget talks in Washington and to the individual stocks and stories of their respective portfolios...

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