* Dow comes within 13 points of 20,000 mark
* S&P within 5 points of intraday record high
* Financials lead gainers; Goldman Sachs boosts Dow
* Indexes up: Dow 0.39 pct, S&P 0.29 pct, Nasdaq 0.43 pct
(Updates to early afternoon)
By Tanya Agrawal
Dec 20 U.S. stocks eased off their session highs
in early afternoon trading on Tuesday, but the Dow was still
within spitting distance of 20,000, a level it has never
The Nasdaq and the Dow had hit fresh records earlier in the
day, with the blue-chip index falling just 13 points short of
scaling the historic mark.
Goldman Sachs, which was up 1.1 percent, gave the
biggest boost to the Dow.
U.S. stocks have been on a tear since the Nov. 8
presidential election, with the Dow up 9 percent and the S&P 500
more than 6 percent on bets that President-elect Donald Trump's
plans for deregulation and infrastructure spending will boost
"It's just the momentum since the election," said Jeff
Zipper, managing director for investments at Private Client
Reserve at U.S. Bank in Palm Beach, Florida.
"The market is focused on the Trump agenda, which is tax
cuts, infrastructure spending and deregulation. There's not a
lot of selling going on."
However, volumes were muted as the last full trading week
before the holiday season gets underway where movements may be
There are also concerns that the post-election rally may
have gone too far too soon.
"We're a little bit concerned that market trends may be
extended a little bit and market prices need to convert to fair
value," Zipper said. "It's not unusual to see a pullback after
such a move."
The S&P 500 is trading at 17.9 times forward 12-month
earnings, above the 10-year median of 14.7 times, according to
At 12:46 p.m. ET (1746 GMT) the Dow Jones Industrial average
was up 77.46 points, or 0.39 percent, at 19,960.52.
The S&P 500 was up 6.69 points, or 0.29 percent, at
2,269.22. The index came within five points of its intraday high
The Nasdaq Composite was up 23.38 points, or 0.43
percent, at 5,480.82.
Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the
financial index's 0.81 percent rise leading the
Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Citigroup
boosted the sector.
The index has risen about 18 percent since the election,
buoyed by Trump's deregulation plans and the prospect of higher
The consumer discretionary index was also up 0.80
Brent oil prices rose to a one-week high on forecasts of a
steep draw in U.S. crude stocks that could indicate global
oversupply is starting to shrink.
The dollar climbed to a 14-year high after Federal Reserve
Chair Janet Yellen's comments about the labor market reinforced
the notion of a faster pace of U.S. interest rate hikes next
year than had been expected.
General Mills fell 3.2 percent to $61.01 after the
Cheerios cereal-maker's quarterly results missed expectations.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,819
to 1,077. On the Nasdaq, 1,769 issues rose and 1,023 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 34 new 52-week highs and no new
lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 180 new highs and 24 new lows.
(Reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb
Chakrabarty and Anil D'Silva)