Major US stock indices have turned in mixed results. Rising energy prices pushed oil stocks higher, and banks rose amid signs of easing credit markets.
Concerns about a looming slump in US corporate profits continued on Tuesday, though, weighing on some sectors of the stock market.
A survey of analysts by the Bloomberg financial news agency found an average estimate that profits at S&P 500 companies probably fell by 20 per cent in the October-December quarter.
"The stock market is cheap by big-picture standards," Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Chicago's Harris Private Bank, told Bloomberg. "Anyone buying in today has to be looking past the valley and into 2010 and 2011. Credit conditions underneath the surface are improving pretty consistently."
The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 25.41 points, or 0.3 percent, to 8,448.56. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 Index edged up 1.53 points, or 0.18 per cent, to 871.79. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index gained 7.67 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 1,546.46.
The US currency was higher against the euro, closing at 75.775 euro cents compared to 74.85 euro cents on Monday. The dollar was off against the Japanese currency, closing at 89.314 yen compared to 89.46 yen on Monday.