U.S. stocks finished little changed on Tuesday following the prior day's rout, in the wake of steps by China to support its stock market and as American car sales came in mixed.
Shares of Ford Motor (F) declined after the manufacturer reported U.S. sales climbed 8.4 percent in December compared to a year earlier, and 5.3 percent for 2015. December's tally came in below an 11 percent forecast by Edmunds.com. General Motors (GM) also fell after reporting a 5.7 percent sales gain last month. Fiat Chrysler also reported less-than-expected sales, but 2015 still broke the yearly U.S. sales record set more than a decade ago.
European stocks rose, while Chinese shares listed in Shanghai and Shenzen finished little changed even with a cash injection of about $20 billion into money markets by the People's Bank of China. Chinese regulators also said they would introduce new rules to further curb share sales by large investors in listed companies.
The step helped spark a turnaround in industrial metals and calmed worries that softness in China, the world's second-biggest economy, would curb global growth.
The Dow industrials (DJI) gained 10 points, or 0.1 percent, at 17,159, with Apple fronting losses and Walmart (WMT) gains among the blue-chip index's 30 components. The S&P 500 (SPX) added 4 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,017. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP) fell 12 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,891.
Early indications of how corporate America is faring have been less than positive, with companies starting to post their latest quarterly results next week.
"Stock prices either need to reset lower to reflect deteriorating revenue trends or those trends need to improve, something we have yet to measure, for markets to sustain a rally," Nick Raich, CEO at the Earnings Scout, said in a research note.