Us stocks closing: U.S. stocks advanced on Tuesday, led by defensive sectors, in a sign the cash piles recently moving into the market are being put to use by cautious investors to pick up more gains.
The S&P 500 is on track to post its best monthly performance since October 2011 and its best January since 1997 as investors poured $55 billion in new cash into stock mutual funds and exchange-traded funds in January, the biggest monthly inflow on record. The Dow Jones industrial average has been flirting with 14,000, a level it hasn't seen since October 2007.
Shares of Amazon.com jumped nearly 7 percent in extended trade after the world's largest Internet retailer posted fourth-quarter revenue that jumped 22 percent to $21.27 billion. The stock closed down 5.7 percent at $260.35 in regular trading.
Among rising defensive shares, which are companies relatively immune to economic swings, were drugmaker Pfizer , up 3.2 percent to $27.70 after posting earnings and AT&T, 1.6 percent higher at $34.68.
"Cyclical were moving very nicely, now you see balance with some of the defensive. Many managers use that as an internal hedge in equity portfolios," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey.
She said the market is cautious ahead of Wednesday's statement following the Federal Reserve's two-day meeting. In addition, defensive stocks would hold up better if Friday's payrolls report surprises on the downside.
The S&P hovered near 1,500, and market technicians say the benchmark is at an inflection point which will determine the overall direction in the near term.
"The public is pouring in now," said Carter Worth, chief market technician at Oppenheimer & Co in New York. "It reflects complacency and that typically leads to hubris, and hubris leads to trouble. Everyone's buying."
The top performing sectors on the S&P 500 were healthcare and telecom services, so-called defensive sectors, both up more than 1 percent.
The energy sector also advanced, on the back of strong earnings from Valero Energy Corp and a hedge fund move to break up Hess Corp to boost investor returns.
Valero shares jumped 12.8 percent to $43.77 and Hess gained 9 percent