By Paul Vigna and Anna Isaac 

U.S. stocks inched higher a day after the S&P 500 closed at a record, as investors sifted through a heavy batch of earnings reports and awaited key economic data later this week.

The broad stock-market index ticked up 0.2%, building on Monday's high -- the index's first record since July. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 36 points, or 0.1%, while the Nasdaq Composite declined 0.3% as tech stocks stumbled in the wake of Alphabet's disappointing earnings report.

Both the Dow and Nasdaq are within 1% of their July highs.

This week brings several key reports, including a reading on third-quarter gross domestic product on Wednesday and the monthly jobs report on Friday. The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, is expected to cut interest rates for the third time this year at the conclusion of Wednesday's meeting.

"To break higher from here, you need to see the economic data turn up," said Rupert Thompson, head of research at Kingswood Group in London.

To that end, three reports on the housing market Tuesday morning showed it gaining modest strength thanks to lower mortgage rates. But it was another round of earnings reports that was getting most of the attention.

General Motors, which said the worker strike this year cost it $3 billion and cut its 2019 profit forecast, climbed 4.9% after third-quarter earnings beat Street estimates.

Shares of Pfizer rose 2.8% after the drugmaker raised its financial targets for 2019. Rival Merck gained 3.9% after it, too, boosted its outlook.

KKR added 0.3% after reporting third-quarter earnings that fell 60% from a year ago, but still beat Street expectations.

Google parent Alphabet fell 2.2% after a third-quarter report showed that rising costs and weakness at some long-held investments outpaced online advertising sales growth.

Grubhub slumped 43% after the online-delivery company said competition is hurting its orders and customer growth, and cut its outlook as a result.

Major stock indexes have been largely rangebound the past few months, and observers aren't convinced yet that the range has been broken with the latest move up.

"With the recent history of strong selloffs starting soon after breakouts to new highs, this one has a lot to prove as well," said Instinet analyst Frank Cappelleri.

It does seem like investors are "starting to dip their toes," Kingswood's Mr. Thompson said. Some of the economic data suggest a possible bottom has been found, he said. That makes the coming data even more important, he said.

In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 index declined 0.2%, led by losses in financial services and the oil and gas sectors.

The British pound pared back earlier losses and traded at about $1.29 after the main opposition party in the U.K. said it would support efforts to hold an early general election. That makes a national ballot that might help break the parliamentary deadlock over Prime Minister Boris Johnson's divorce deal with the European Union more likely. The FTSE 100 index declined 0.3%.

"It's a never-ending and ever-changing soap opera," Mr. Thompson said. That's made it hard for investors, he said, and helps explain why sterling has been stuck in a range.

Across Asian markets, the picture was more mixed, with the Nikkei 225 index up 0.5%, while the Shanghai Composite slumped 0.9%.

U.S. crude fell 0.1% to $55.79 a barrel after data Monday showed rising inventories.

Write to Paul Vigna at and Anna Isaac at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 29, 2019 13:25 ET (17:25 GMT)

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