By Yashaswini Swamynathan
(Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed on Tuesday, trading in a tight range, as investors fretted over the ability of President Donald Trump to deliver on his policy plans, and ahead of his potentially tense meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
However, the market moved off session lows after Trump said the U.S. infrastructure bill may top $1 trillion and that his administration was working on a major "haircut" on the Dodd-Frank banking regulation, rekindling some of his campaign promises.
The comments boosted industrial and material stocks, which pushed the Dow to session highs. Caterpillar <CAT.N> gained 2.5 percent and Boeing <BA.N> edged up nearly 1 percent. But, a drop in financials and technology stocks checked gains on the S&P and the Nasdaq.
While U.S. equities have hit record highs due to Trump's pro-business policy plans, recent setbacks in pushing reforms through Congress have led investors to question his ability to deliver on his promises.
Adding to investor nervousness is Trump's upcoming meeting with Xi, one which the U.S. president expects "will be a very difficult one," according to his tweet last week. He has held out the possibility of using trade as a lever to secure China's cooperation against North Korea at the Thursday-Friday meeting.
"We will probably have a period of consolidation here as the realism sets in ... it's likely that we are going to see some choppy sideways trading," said Jason Pride, director of investment strategy at Glenmede in Philadelphia.
"Investors are having to go through a period of realism here, which is a transition away from some of the policy-related hype that surrounded the administration to the reality that much of what was proposed was either not going to make it or be a watered down version or be greatly delayed," he said.
At 11:50 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> was up 47.51 points, or 0.23 percent, at 20,697.72, the S&P 500 <.SPX> was up 0.73 points, or 0.03 percent, at 2,359.57 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> was up 3.64 points, or 0.06 percent, at 5,898.32.
Ten of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were lower. The S&P technology sector <.SPLRCT> was off 0.25 percent, weighing the most on the benchmark index.
The biggest drag on the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq was Nvidia <NVDA.O>, which dropped 6 percent to $101.08 after Pacific Crest downgraded the stock to "underweight" from "sector weight".
The financials index <.SPSY> fell 0.26 percent, led by Bank of America <BAC.N>. The lender's stock dropped 1 percent after a rating cut by Citigroup.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,406 to 1,373. On the Nasdaq, 1,354 issues rose and 1,341.
The S&P 500 index showed six 52-week highs and six lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 29 new highs and 33 new lows.
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)