The Dow Jones Industrial Average broke through 26,000 on Tuesday shortly after the market open, but ended the day with a small loss. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also finished lower.

The Dow declined by 0.04%, the S&P 500 dropped by 0.35% and the Nasdaq fell by 0.51%.

Shares of Citigroup Inc. (C)  rose 0.44% after the bank posted a staggering $18.3 billion loss in the fourth quarter as it wrote down the value of tax credits saved up following the U.S. bank's massive government bailout in 2008. It was the New York-based company's biggest loss in a decade, triggered by U.S. lawmakers' passage in December of a cut in the U.S. corporate tax rate to 21% from 35%.

Excluding the charge, however, fourth-quarter earnings per share were $1.28, exceeding analysts' average estimate of $1.22.

UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) posted fourth-quarter earnings of $2.59 a share, 8 cents above analysts' estimates. The stock jumped 2%.

According to FactSet, 69% of the companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings so far have topped earnings estimates.

General Motors Co. (GM) , the country's largest automaker, said Tuesday it would record a $7 billion non-cash charge in the fourth quarter related to the new U.S. tax law but added that it expects adjusted earnings in 2017 at the high end of its guidance range of $6 to $6.50 a share. Analysts expect GM to earn $6.29 a share in 2017. GM rose 0.27%.

General Electric Co. (GE) tumbled almost 3% after the industrial giant said it will book a $6.2 billion charge to its fourth-quarter earnings linked to weakness in its North American Life & Health insurance portfolio.

General Electric is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS charitable trust portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer and the AAP team buy or sell the stock? Learn more now.

Merck & Co. (MRK) gained 5.8% after the drug company announced positive results from a late-stage lung cancer trial.

CVS Health Corp. (CVS) rose 1% after the company said it was banning the use of retouched images used to market beauty products in its stores. CVS has about 9,600 stores across the country and is one of the U.S. largest beauty product sellers. 

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 index, the broadest measure of regional share prices, gained 0.13%, while Asian markets finished the session mostly higher.

The dollar index, a benchmark of the greenback against a basket of six global currencies, was within touching distance of its December 2014 low at 90.60, helping Japan's Nikkei 225 surge 1% to close at the highest level since 1991. At last check, the dollar index was at 90.58.

Oil prices were mixed after touching three-year peaks on Monday, as investors calibrated bets on renewed demand for crude in an accelerating global economy while accounting for an increase in U.S. drilling installations and production rates reported last week. West Texas Intermediate crude oil, the U.S. benchmark, fell 0.6% to $63.91 a barrel.

In U.S. economic news, the Empire State manufacturing survey fell to 17.7 in January, the third straight month the index has declined, from a revised 19.6 in December.

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