A scattered day of trading left stocks mixed on Tuesday with the Nasdaq enjoying a record close for its third day in a row and the Dow Jones Industrial Average hitting pause again on moves toward 20,000.
The S&P 500 was essentially flat and the Dow fell 0.16%, finishing at 19,855. The Nasdaq added 0.36% and ended the day with a new record close of 5,551.
Trading has been erratic ahead of a press conference Wednesday with President-elect Donald Trump, his first since July. Trump could provide details Wednesday on his policy positions, including infrastructure spending plans and policies intended to boost job growth. Uncertainty over Trump's plans dragged on the U.S. dollar and boosted the price of gold. Gold for February delivery climbed 60 cents to $1,185.50 an ounce, its highest settlement in six weeks.
The Dow has struggled to breach 20,000 in recent days after coming close to the milestone on Friday. The Dow has rocketed higher since the November presidential election as investors grew more confident in Trump's infrastructure spending plans.
"Expectations continue to run high that regulations will be rolled back, allowing corporate earnings to improve and support the higher markets," said Paul Nolte, senior vice president of Kingsview Asset Management. "Of course, the new administration could usher in trade wars with a variety of trading partners, boost inflation by profligate spending that would also push interest rates higher."
Crude oil prices declined on Tuesday after slumping to a three-week low a day earlier. The U.S. Energy Information Administration on Tuesday increased its forecast for U.S. crude output this year to 9 million barrels a day, up from 8.78 million in its previous forecast. The agency also upped its full-year price forecast to $52.50 a barrel, higher than its previous forecast of $50.66.