Wall Street capped a subdued day of trading Tuesday with a tiny gain and another milestone.
After spending much of the day drifting between small gains and losses, U.S. stock indexes closed slightly higher, nudging the Nasdaq composite to another high, eclipsing the record it set last Friday.
Consumer goods makers and technology companies rose. Energy companies fell along with the price of crude oil.
For the most part, investors continued to focus on the latest batch of company earnings and outlooks. But traders also have an eye on lawmakers in Washington to gauge whether expectations of business-friendly policies, which helped fuel the market rally last fall, will be fulfilled.
“Certainly earnings have been supportive, but the other thing that’s been supportive is the hope that we’ll get some policy stimulus,” said Mike Baele, managing director at the Private Client Reserve at U.S. Bank. “Now we’re waiting to see if that hope is justified or not.”
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 37.87 points, or 0.2 percent, to 20,090.29. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 0.52 points, or 0.02 percent, to 2,293.08. The Nasdaq gained 10.67 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,674.22. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks fell 5.60 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,361.06.
More stocks fell than rose on the New York Stock Exchange.
Several oil and gas companies slumped as crude prices fell. Chevron fell the most among the 30 companies in the Dow, shedding $1.59, or 1.4 percent, to $111.39. Other big energy decliners included Newfield Exploration, which slid $1.69, or 4.2 percent, to $39.02, and Murphy Oil, which gave up $1.14, or 3.9 percent, to $27.95.
Energy sector stocks were the best performers in 2016, riding a rebound in oil prices on the way to a gain of 23.7 percent. This year, though, the sector is off 5.1 percent, the second-biggest decliner behind phone companies.
“Concern over additional supply coming into the market has hit some of the energy stocks,” Baele said.
Benchmark U.S. crude slid 84 cents, or 1.6 percent, to close at $52.17 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, fell 67 cents, or 1.2 percent, to close at $55.05 a barrel in London.
Disappointing quarterly results or outlooks weighed down several stocks, including Michael Kors. The luxury retailer, which gave weak guidance for its current quarter and cut its estimates for the year, was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500 index. The stock slumped $4.46, or 10.8 percent, to $36.82.
General Motors fell 4.7 percent after the automaker said its earnings declined in the fourth quarter as costs increased. The stock gave up $1.73 to $35.10.
Sabre tumbled 10.5 percent after the travel industry technology provider issued a forecast for 2017 that fell short of Wall Street’s estimates. The stock shed $2.60 to $22.21.
Traders bid up shares in companies that posted better-than-expected quarterly results, including health insurer Centene, which climbed $3.37, or 5.3 percent, to $67.
Emerson Electric gained 4.5 percent. The company, which makes process controls systems, valves and analytical instruments, also raised its estimates for the rest of the year. The stock rose $2.68 to $62.54.
More than half of the companies in the S&P 500 index have reported quarterly results so far, and more than 60 percent have posted earnings that beat financial analysts’ estimates, noted Erik Davidson, chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Private Bank.
“We haven’t seen a lot of earnings growth in the past several quarters, so the market is excited to see that,” Davidson said.
The major stock indexes in Europe were mixed.
Germany’s DAX index added 0.3 percent, while France’s CAC 40 was 0.5 percent lower. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.2 percent. Earlier in Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index lost 0.4 percent, while Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 rose 0.1 percent. Seoul’s Kospi slid 0.1 percent, while India’s Sensex shed 0.6 percent.
In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to $1.49 a gallon, while heating oil slid 1 cent to $1.62 a gallon. Natural gas futures gained 8 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $3.13 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Bond prices rose. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 2.39 percent from 2.41 percent late Monday.
In currency trading, the dollar rose to 112.19 yen from 111.83 on Monday. The euro fell to $1.0696 from $1.0748.
Among metals, the price of gold added $4 to $1,236.10 an ounce. Silver added 6 cents to $17.76 an ounce. Copper fell 2 cents to $2.63 a pound.