By Anora Mahmudova and Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch

Valeant soars on deal news

U.S. stocks turned positive in late-morning trading Tuesday, with the main benchmarks near record levels as investors shake off their cautious stance ahead of earnings season.

The S&P 500 index was up by 3 points, or 0.1%, at 2,272, with seven of the 11 main sectors trading higher. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 23 points, or 0.1%, to 19,911, with American Express Co.(AXP) and Caterpillar Inc(CAT) leading gains, up more than 1.5%.

Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index traded in record territory after closing at an all-time high for the second session in a row ( on Monday. The tech-heavy index was up 14 points, or 0.3%, at 5,546.

"In the near term, there are a lot of things to worry about. For example, we might hear some chatter from the corporations about the sharp rise in the dollar, which will have an impact on their earnings in the next few quarters," said Maris Ogg, president at Tower Bridge Advisors.

Ogg isn't worried about stock markets over the next few years, however, in part because of expected deregulation.

"It appears that Donald Trump has filled his cabinet with a lot of pragmatic people that could get some of the quick fixes to move the economy forward," Ogg said.

Read: Goldman's Hatzius says investors could get blindsided by Fed hikes this year (

The next triggers for stocks: Trump will hold a news conference on Wednesday, his first in any official capacity since July (

"If Donald Trump succeeds to cheer up investors at this week's conference, we could see a fresh rally in the U.S. stocks and the U.S. dollar. Therefore, the upside risks prevail in the U.S. markets," said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior market analyst at London Capital Group, in a note to investors.

Read: Here's why Trump's inauguration could mark a near-term top for stocks (

More evidence of pre-Trump news conference nervousness could be found in the dollar , which pulled back somewhat on Wednesday. The dollar has been rising on hopes that the new administration'sfiscal stimulus will boost the economy, but some analysts believe that bet may have been pushed as far as it will go for now. (

( Trump, what the market is looking for is confirmation of valuations at current levels for stocks, and the only way to get that will be upbeat earnings, said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial.

"Basically Friday, we have two bank stocks coming up, and if they beat expectations both top and bottom line, I think we could see the Dow finally hit that 20,000 mark," said Cardillo. J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC) are among banks due to report Friday.

Economic docket: No major economic reports are due for release Tuesday. The National Federation of Independent Business said its optimism index jumped 7.4 points to 105.8, the strongest reading since 2004 ( Data on job openings and wholesale inventories for November are scheduled for release at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Stocks to watch: Shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc.(VRX.T) shot up 10% after announcing a couple of deals. Late Monday, the pharmaceutical group said it would sell its Dendreon cancer unit ( to Chinese conglomerate Sanpower Group Inc. for $818.8 million in cash.

Also Monday, Valeant said it has agreed to sell three skin care brands ( to French cosmetics giant L'Oréal SA (OR.FR) for $1.3 billion.

Ascena Retail Group Inc.(ASNA) shares plunged 14% after the company warned that it will report a wider-than-expected loss ( after disappointing holiday sales led to increased promotions.

Alphabet Inc.'s(GOOGL) Google is said to be in talks to sell its satellite business Terra Bella ( to startup rival Planet Labs Inc.

Read: Alibaba promises Trump 1 million jobs, but don't believe it (

( Inc.(YHOO) could be in focus after plans were disclosed Monday afternoon in which Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer and co-founder David Filoresigned from the board of directors (. Yahoo shares rose 1.3%.

Shares of Williams Cos.(WMB) tumbled 10% after the natural gas infrastructure company said its stock offering priced at a deep discount ( that it would increase its stake in Williams Partners L.P.

Shares of Illumina Inc. (ILMN) were up some 17% and on track to register the best daily rise for the he genetic-sequencing company since 2012.

Other markets: European stocks traded mixed, while Asian markets mostly declined.

Oil prices showed signs of a rebound after a 4% drop on Monday, while gold prices eased slightly.

Read:Stock-market bulls may get scorched by 'Icarus trade' in 2017 (

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 10, 2017 11:19 ET (16:19 GMT)

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