US stocks were narrowly mixed as large-cap company earnings rolled in and the consumer confidence data for January reflected the tug of war between the current and near-term outlook.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 21.34 points to 30,981.34. The S&P 500 was fractionally lower to 3,854.45. The Nasdaq Composite was up by 0.1% to 13,646.24, after earlier trading lower. The energy and utilities sectors were the steepest decliners while real estate and communication services led the gainers after midday on Tuesday.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures fell by 0.6% to $52.48 and the dollar slid by 0.2% against a basket of currencies to 90.25.
The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index for January rose to 89.3 from a revised 87.1 in the previous month and ahead of the Econoday consensus estimate of 88.5. The present situation measure fell to 84.4 from 87.2 but the expectations gauge rose to 92.5 from 87.
While the increase was encouraging, it indicates a battle between a decline in current conditions and an improving near-term outlook, Jefferies economists Thomas Simons and Aneta Markowska said in a research note.
Large-cap earnings released on Tuesday included Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), which issued higher-than-expected 2021 earnings guidance as Q4 results topped views. Shares were up 3%, the second best performer in the Dow. 3M (MMM) reported gains in revenue and earnings in the final three months of 2020 as strong demand drove up sales across all its segments and the firm outlined guidance for further growth in the current year. 3M shares rose 3.3%, the biggest gainer in the Dow.
The strongest returns on the S&P 500 were from Freeport-McMoRan (FCX), which was up by 6.2% after reporting higher earnings and sales in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, GameStop (GME) shares surged again on Tuesday after wild moves on Monday. The video game retailer's shares were up 24.5%. PepsiCo (PEP) and Beyond Meat (BYND) have formed a joint venture to develop, produce and market plant-based snack and beverage products. Financial terms weren't disclosed. Shares of Beyond Meat surged by 20%.
The International Monetary Fund lifted the global growth outlook to 5.5% from 5.2% in 2021, saying COVID-19 vaccines will prop up economic activity in the year alongside policy support from few large economies. It also narrowed its forecast for the contraction in 2020 to 3.5% from an earlier estimate of a contraction of 4.4%, reflecting "stronger-than-expected momentum in the second half of 2020."
In the precious metals markets, gold was down 0.2% to $1,853.30 an ounce, with silver up 0.3% to $25.56 an ounce.
Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund fell 0.4% to $35.46 and the United States Natural Gas Fund was up 0.8% to $9.62. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was up 0.5% to $35.40 and SPDR Gold Shares were down 0.2% to $173.72. The iShares Silver Trust was up 0.5% to $23.66.