U.S. equities closed mixed after a choppy session on Tuesday, as the Nasdaq composite notched a fresh record high, while investors prepared for a key news conference from the U.S. president-elect.
"For the past few weeks, you're seeing a tug-of-war between bulls and bears," said Adam Sarhan, CEO at 50 Park Investments. "The market continues to wait for a catalyst."
The Nasdaq hit a new intraday record and posted a new closing high, as health care stocks rose. The S&P 500 closed unchanged for the first time in nine years, with consumer discretionary leading advancers and real estate lagging. The Dow Jones industrial average fell about 30 points, after briefly flirting with the psychologically important 20,000 mark.
"We've had a little bit of back-and-forth recently ... which coincided with improving economic data," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott, who noted the market was trying to get back some of Monday's losses. Equities ended Monday's session mixed, with the Dow and S&P closing lower, while the Nasdaq rose.
The NFIB's small business survey results for December showed sentiment soaring to a 12-year high. Wholesale inventories, meanwhile, rose 1 percent, slightly above estimates. The job openings and labor turnover survey (JOLTS) for November showed job openings remained little changed at 5.5 million. That said, the number of people quitting their jobs hit a record high, which shows confidence in the economy.
"Clearly, the breadth [in the market] has declined," said Maris Ogg, president at Tower Bridge Advisors. "There are some near-term concerns. The near-term concern I have is the rising dollar."
Trump is scheduled to hold a news conference Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET. "Investors are going to want to hear what he has to say, and whether he's changing his tone," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial.