By Akane Otani and Riva Gold
Stocks inched higher Tuesday, with gains in technology shares helping lift the Nasdaq /zigman2/quotes/205547889/composite NDAQ +0.36% Composite to a fresh record.
Indexes have slowed their ascent since Election Day but have continued to climb in 2017, partly as corporate earnings continue to improve.
With around 300 companies in the S&P 500 having reported so far, fourth-quarter earnings are on track to grow 5.2% from the year-earlier period, according to FactSet, more than the 3.2% growth rate analysts had expected at the end of 2016.
Many investors say they are cautiously optimistic about U.S. stocks’ path, especially if companies can sustain earnings growth through the rest of the year and the White House is able to push through initiatives such as fiscal stimulus and tax cuts.
“When you focus on the long term, you see earnings are improving and the economy is growing, which is what really matters,” said Omar Aguilar, chief investment officer of equities and multiasset strategies at Charles Schwab Investment Management.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 37.87 points, or 0.2%, to 20090.29. The S&P 500 added 0.52 point, or less than 0.1%, to 2293.08, and the Nasdaq Composite gained 10.67 points, or 0.2%, to 5674.22—another record for the tech-heavy index.
International Business Machines /zigman2/quotes/203856914/composite IBM +0.44% gained $2.60, or 1.5%, to $178.46, and Apple rose 1.24, or 1%, to 131.50, together adding more than 26 points to the Dow industrials. Tech shares in the S&P 500 rose 0.4%.
Energy shares trailed as U.S. crude prices fell 1.6% to $52.17 a barrel. Shares of energy companies in the S&P 500 lost 1.4% and were the worst performers in the broad index.
Earnings drove much of the other big moves in stocks.
Shares of health insurer Centene rose 3.37, or 5.3%, to 67.00 after the company reported its revenue and profit continued to increase in the latest quarter .
Intercontinental Exchange /zigman2/quotes/209108507/composite ICE +1.41% shares gained 1.42, or 2.4%, to 59.93 after the exchange operator reported revenue climbed more than expected in the fourth quarter, supported by a rise in trading fees.
Shares of Michael Kors Holdings fell 4.46, or 11%, to 36.82 after the company lowered its 2017 outlook, citing disappointing sales results in North America and Europe.
Some analysts have cautioned that the earnings recovery could stall should the dollar, which has retreated this year after reaching a 14-year high, post sharp gains again.
A stronger dollar can hurt U.S. multinationals since it makes their exports more expensive to buyers abroad and makes their foreign earnings worth less when converted back into dollars.
The WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the dollar against a basket of 16 currencies, climbed 0.5% Tuesday.
U.S. government bonds strengthened for a second day in a row. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.389%, from 2.413% Monday. Yields fall as bond prices rise.
Elsewhere, the Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.3%. Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average fell 0.3% Tuesday, snapping a two-day winning streak.