By Wallace Witkowski and Anora Mahmudova, MarketWatch

GM shares jump after the auto maker raised its earnings outlook for 2017

The major U.S. stock-market benchmarks on Tuesday traded near records but the Dow industrials' run to the psychologically significant level of 20,000 lost steam.

Trading enthusiasm was tepid as investors awaited corporate earnings and as a news conference from President-elect Donald Trump set for Wednesday--his first since being elected on Nov. 8--loomed.

The S&P 500 index was up by 1 point at 2,270, after being up by as many as 10 points earlier in the session. Six of the 11 mainsectors trading lower, with the real-estate sector trading about 1% lower and health-care shares leading gainers.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average pulled back from an earlier advance and was last down 23 points, or 0.1%, at 19,864, after being up by as many as 70 points and within 43 of breaching the 20,000 mark. Shares of American Express Co.(AXP) and Caterpillar Inc(CAT) led gainers, both up about 1.5%, while shares of Merck & Co.(MRK) and International Business Machines Corp.(IBM) dragged on the average.

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 13 points, or 0.3%, at 5,545, after being up by as many as 32 points earlier in the session.

"It's relatively quiet in general and not a lot of investors aredoing much before we kick into earnings season and then the inauguration," said Mark Kepner, managing director of sales and trading at Themis Trading, in an interview.

"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 (

Trump'snews conference: "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 (

Some of evidence of pre-Trump news conference jitters was on display in the dollar , which pulled back somewhat on Wednesday. At last check, the greenback was up about 0.1% against major currencies. The dollar has been rising on hopes that the new administration's fiscal stimulus will boost the economy, but some analysts believe that bet may have been pushed too far, too fast. (

( Trump, the market is looking for confirmation of stock valuations at current levels, 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 & Co. (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 ( November job openings rose ( as did the number of people quitting jobs while wholesale inventories for November ( jumped 1%.

Stocks to watch: Shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc.(VRX.T) shot up 5.3% 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 $1.3billion.

General Motors Co.(GM) shares rallied 4.4% after the car maker forecast a 2017 outlook above Wall Street expectations (

Ascena Retail Group Inc.(ASNA) shares fell 10% 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) (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) shares rose 2.3% after plans were disclosed Monday afternoon in which Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer and co-founder David Filo resigned from the board of directors (.

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 more than 17% and on track to register the best daily rise for the genetic-sequencing company since 2012.

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

Oil prices ( slipped 1% after a 4% drop on Monday, while gold prices ( settled down less than 0.1% at $1,185.50 an ounce.

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

( Kollmeyer in Madrid contributed to this article.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 10, 2017 14:18 ET (19:18 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2017 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.