But trade optimism was undercut by a report from the US Commerce Department showing retail sales in December suffered their biggest drop in more than nine years, stoking fears of an economic slowdown.
«The market has been climbing this wall of worry since Christmas,» said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York. «Some of that worry might turn into reality, and that’s what’s holding investors back.»
«I wouldn’t say there’s a lot of conviction out there,» Ghriskey added.
With the fourth-quarter reporting season now more than three-fourths complete, analysts now see earnings growth of 16.2 per cent for the quarter, according to Refinitiv data.
But first-quarter estimates are less favourable. They show a 0.3 per cent year- on-year decline, which would mark the first quarter of negative growth since the earnings recession that ended in 2016.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 103.88 points, or 0.41 per cent, to 25,439.39, the S&P 500 lost 7.3 points, or 0.27 per cent, to 2,745.73 and the Nasdaq Composite added 6.58 points, or 0.09 per cent, to 7,426.96.
Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, 6 closed in negative territory, with consumer staples and financials showing the biggest per centage declines.
Cisco Systems Inc rose 1.9 per cent on the heels of a better-than-expected earnings report as the network gear maker benefited from strength in newer businesses and shrugged off the impact of the US-China trade war.
Shares of American International Group Inc slid 9.0 per cent, marking its worst day in four years after the global insurer posted a quarterly loss.
Coca-Cola Co shares fizzled, dropping 8.4 per cent and providing the biggest drag on the Dow after its full-year profit forecast fell well below Wall Street expectations.
Amazon.com dipped 1.1 per cent after pulling the plug on its planned headquarters in New York due to local opposition.
Canada Goose’s quarterly results and profit forecasts beat analyst expectations, but said higher labour costs and expansion investments hit profit margins. The luxury coat maker’s US-listed shares sank 12.9 per cent.
Avon Products Inc plunged 11.0 per cent after the multi-level marketing cosmetics brand missed quarterly revenue estimates.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.21-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.02-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 19 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 67 new highs and 26 new lows.
Volume on US exchanges was 7.18 billion shares, compared to the 7.43 billion average over the last 20 trading days.