The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose to a new record overnight, bolstered by better-than-expected earnings and a more upbeat profit outlook from United Technologies.
Shares of United Technologies advanced, last up 3.2 per cent, after the company lifted the lower end of its full-year profit forecast.
"The growth in orders is fuel for the coming quarters," Chief Executive Officer Louis Chenevert told Bloomberg News after the results were announced. "It gives me high confidence for what's coming in the second half."
Also providing an improved forecast, for the third-quarter period, was Texas Instruments, boosting its shares 4.5 per cent.
In late afternoon trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.33 per cent. It touched a record high of 15,604.22.
The Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 0.07 per cent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.36 per cent. Earlier in the session the S&P 500 had climbed to reach a record high 1,698.78.
"Valuations are decent, there's positive monetary pressure, earnings are just OK ... it's hard to get people excited but the market keeps grinding higher," John Manley, chief equity strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management in New York, told Reuters.
"It will be slow over the summer, but the market will have an upward bias."
Still, there were disappointments too. Stock market darling Netflix failed to live up to expectations in terms of the number of new subscribers, sending its shares down 4.1 per cent.
Also falling short of the mark was Travelers, weakening its shares by 3.8 per cent.
Apple is set to release its latest earnings after the close of the market today. The stock was last down 1 per cent at US$422.14.
Shares of Cisco were down 0.3 per cent after the company said it agreed to buy Sourcefire for US$2.7 billion.
Demand for the US government's auction of two-year notes today was tepid. The bid-to-cover ratio on the US$35 billion in notes was 3.08, compared with an average of 3.54 for the past 10 sales, according to Bloomberg. Tomorrow's auction of five-year bonds will be more challenging.
"The five-year's going to be a little more difficult just because the five-year sector has rebounded off its lows," Thomas di Galoma, head of US rates sales at ED&F Man Capital Markets in New York, told Bloomberg News.
The latest US economic data were weaker than expected. Manufacturing in the region covered by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond posted a surprise contraction in July.
In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index shed 0.3 per cent. Germany's DAX slipped 0.2 per cent, while the UK's FTSE 100 and France's CAC 40 both fell 0.4 per cent.