Big earnings news due at the end of the week, specifically from banks, will also likely provide some guidance for investors, said some observers.
Dow Jones Industrial Average futures YMH7, -0.08% slipped 2 points to 19,826, while S&P 500 futures ESH7, -0.01% rose 0.75 point to 2,265.75. Nasdaq-100 futures NQH7, +0.00% traded up 3 points at 5,025.25.
The Nasdaq Composite COMP, +0.19% finished at a record high for the second session in a row on Monday, adding 10.76 points to 5,531.82.
But the other main indexes pulled back amid new-year caution that has taken hold of some investors. Bulls had been pushing up stocks on the prospect that Trump’s policies will stimulate economic growth. The Dow industrials DJIA, -0.38% not only failed to make it to 20,000 on Monday, but retreated further from this highly anticipated mark, closing off 76.42 points 19,887.38, while the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.35% slipped 8.08 points to 2,268.90.
Read: Goldman’s Hatzius says investors could get blindsided by Fed hikes this year
The next triggers for stocks: Trump will hold a news conference on Wednesday, his first since July.
“If Donald Trump succeeds to cheer up investors at this week’s conference, we could see a fresh rally in the U.S. stocks and the U.S. dollar. Therefore, the upside risks prevail in the U.S. markets,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior market analyst at London Capital Group, in a note to investors.
Read: Here’s why Trump’s inauguration could mark a near-term top for stocks
More evidence of pre-Trump news conference nervousness could be found in the dollar DXY, +0.15% which pulled back somewhat on Wednesday. The dollar has been rising on hopes that the new administration’s fiscal stimulus will boost the economy, but some analysts believe that bet may have been pushed as far as it will go for now.
Beyond Trump, what the market is looking for is confirmation of valuations at current levels for stocks, and the only way to get that will be the earnings flow, said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial in a telephone interview.
“Basically Friday, we have two bank stocks coming up, and if they beat expectations both top and bottom line, I think we could see the Dow finally hit that 20,000 mark,” said Cardillo. J.P. Morgan Chase JPM, +0.07% and Bank of America Corp. BAC, -0.57% are among banks due to report Friday.
Economic docket: No major economic reports are due for release Tuesday. The National Federation of Independent Business said its optimism index jumped 7.4 points to 105.8, the strongest reading since 2004. Data on job openings and wholesale inventories for November are scheduled for release at 10 a.m. Eastern.
There are no Federal Reserve officials scheduled to speak Tuesday.
Stocks to watch: Shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. VRX, +0.39% shot up 12% in premarket action after announcing a couple of deals. Late Monday, the pharmaceutical group said it would sell its Dendreon cancer unit to Chinese conglomerate Sanpower Group Inc. for $818.8 million in cash.
Also Monday, Valeant said it has agreed to sell three skin care brands to French cosmetics giant L’Oreal SA OR, -0.64% for $1.3 billion.
Ascena Retail Group Inc. ASNA, +0.17% warned Tuesday that it will report a wider-than-expected loss after disappointing holiday sales led to increased promotions. The company said sales at its Ann Taylor unit fell 8.2% between Nov. 19 and Jan. 2.
Alphabet Inc.’s GOOGL, +0.24% Google is said to be in talks to sell its satellite business Terra Bella to startup rival Planet Labs Inc.
Alibaba's Jack Ma meets Trump, vows to create U.S. jobsAlibaba founder Jack Ma met with President-elect Donald Trump on Monday to discuss U.S.-China business relationships and efforts to create more jobs in America.
Read: Alibaba promises Trump 1 million jobs, but don’t believe it
Yahoo Inc. YHOO, +0.27% could be in focus after plans were disclosed Monday afternoon in which Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer and co-founder David Filo resigned from the board of directors. Yahoo shares rose mildly in premarket action.
Other markets: European stocks SXXP, +0.00% traded mixed, while Asian markets ADOW, +0.35% mostly declined.
Oil prices CLG7, +0.25% showed signs of a rebound after a 4% drop on Monday, while gold prices GCH7, -0.20% eased slightly.
Read: Stock-market bulls may get scorched by ‘Icarus trade’ in 2017