Stocks rose on Tuesday, led by financials, as investors remained unfazed by geopolitical tensions, while the Dow Jones industrial average kept marching toward 20,000.
At session highs, the blue-chips index came within 13 points of hitting the milestone mark, before closing 90 points higher, after hitting a new intraday high, with Goldman Sachs contributing the most gains. The Dow also ended around 25 points away from 20,000.
"We have to put this move into perspective," said Adam Sarhan, CEO at 50 Park Investments. "It's not just about hitting 20,000. We've had a very strong rally since the election." Since Nov. 8, the Dow has surged more than 8 percent and has posted 17 record closes.
The S&P 500 rose 0.3 percent, with financials rising more than 1 percent. The Nasdaq composite advanced 0.5 percent, also reaching a new all-time high earlier in the session.
"I think the reason we came out higher is because there was no economic data and volume is pretty light," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial. "The absence of any macro news has given the bulls total control of the market today."
Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities, said "you'll be hard pressed to find a catalyst ... until we flip the calendar." "We're running out of things that can trip us up."
The U.S. composite volume totaled 6.17 billion shares on Monday, the lowest since Nov. 25, when only 3 billion shares were traded, as the Christmas holiday approached. "As we go deeper into the week, the volume will continue to fall off," said said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial. "That's important because any strong headline can skew the market in one direction or another."
First Standard's Cardillo also said investors were ignoring geopolitical tensions. On Monday, the Russian ambassador to Turkey died after being shot by a gunman at an art gallery in the Turkish capital. Meanwhile, in Berlin, a truck ploughed into a crowded Christmas market, killing 12 and injuring 48.
"That's the hallmark of a bull market. When the market refuses to fall on 'bearish news,' that tells you that this is very strong bull market," said 50 Park's Sarhan.
European equities traded mostly higher Tuesday, as the pan-European Stoxx 600 index rose 0.48 percent. "If the pattern is something we've seen before, the market is going to look right through it," said Prudential's Krosby.
There are no major economic data due Tuesday, but investors had several earnings reports to chew on, with the likes of Darden Restaurants, General Mills and BlackBerry all reporting before the bell. FedEx and Nike are also scheduled to report after the close.
"Along with [Oracle], which delivered their earnings last week, and [Accenture], which will do the same tomorrow morning, these releases will offer a good preview for the upcoming reporting season," Jeremy Klein, chief market strategist at FBN Securities, said in a note, referring to Nike and FedEx's results.
Analysts polled by Reuters expect Dow-component Nike to report earnings per share of 43 cents on sales of 8.1 billion. FedEx is expected to post profits of $2.90 per share on revenue of $14.92 billion.
U.S. Treasurys resumed their sell-off after a slight uptick following the events in Ankara and Berlin, with the benchmark 10-year note yield rising to 2.5597 percent and the short-term yielding 1.2326 percent.
In oil markets, U.S. crude rose 0.21 percent to settle at $52.23 per barrel amid expectations for falling U.S. stockpiles.
The gained 8.23 points, or 0.36 percent, to 2,270.76, with financials leading eight sectors higher and consumer staples the biggest decliner.
The Nasdaq composite advanced 26.50 points, or 0.49 percent, to end at 5,483.94.
About two stocks advanced for every decliner at the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 783.44 million and a composite volume of 3.221 billion at the close.
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, traded near 11.4.
—CNBC's Sam Meredith and Christopher Hayes contributed to this report.
On tap this week:
No reports expected
10:00 a.m. Existing home sales
8:30 a.m. Initial claims
8:30 a.m. Durable goods
8:30 a.m. Real GDP
9:00 a.m. FHFA HPI
10:00 a.m. Personal income
10:00 a.m. New home sales
10:00 a.m. Consumer sentiment
*Planner subject to change.