The Dow eked out a gain Tuesday but trading was light and choppy following Monday's rally.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 20.03, or 0.2 percent, to close at 10,246.97, its highest close since October 2008, and fifth straight gain. This came after the Dow chalked up its second 200-plus gain in three sessions on Monday.
The S&P 500 finished flat and the Nasdaq shed 0.1 percent.
Health-care, utilities and materials were the best-performing sectors.
Bank of America was the top gainer on the Dow, up 1.7 percent, after some reassuring words from embattled CEO Ken Lewis.
American Express gained after the company said credit-card spending rose in October from September.
But financials struggled after MBIA reported another hefty loss — this one clocked in at $727.8 million, or $3.50 a share — amid mounting writedowns. MBIA shares tumbled 27 percent.
Techs showed some strength as chips advanced and Priceline shot up 18 percent after the travel-booking Web site crushed earnings expectations due to an "exceptionally strong" summer-travel season.
There were some glimmers in retail as investors are increasingly making bets on consumer-discretionary spending.
There were no major releases on the calendar for a second consecutive day, a streak that will be continued Wednesday as many offices and the bond market will be closed in observance of the Veterans' Day holiday.
Filling the void, there were a parade of Fed speakers today: Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart, San Francisco Fed President Janet Yellen, Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo and Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher.
Lockhart and Yellen warned that unemployment likely will remain high for the next several yearsbecause the economic recovery won't be strong enough to spur robust hiring. These were the first public remarks from Fed officials since the government last week reported that the unemployment rate surged to 10.2 percent in October, the highest since the mid-1980s.