The Dow Jones Industrial Average briefly broke above the 23,000-point mark for the first time on Tuesday, driven by strong earnings from UnitedHealth and Johnson & Johnson, but finished the session just below that milestone.
The blue-chip index, which surpassed similar 1,000-point marks three times previously this year, has been steadily inching higher and is up 2.6 percent so far this month, putting it on track for a seventh straight monthly advance.
Shares of UnitedHealth touched a record intraday high and closed up 5.5 percent after the company reported a stronger-than-expected profit and raised its full-year earnings forecast.
Johnson & Johnson, up 3.4 percent, also posted better-than-expected results and raised its forecast, leading a 1.3 percent gain in the S&P healthcare sector.
Also raising some health insurers and hospital operators was news of a bipartisan deal in the Senate to stabilize Obamacare. Shares of Anthem were up 1.9 percent, while shares of Tenet Healthcare rose 5.3 percent.
Financials were the largest drag on the S&P 500 index, with Goldman Sachs down 2.6 percent despite reporting earnings that exceed expectations and smaller-than-expected trading revenue decline.
Netflix fell 1.6 percent after hitting a record high as more subscribers signed up for its original content in the latest quarter.
After the bell, shares of IBM were up 4.9 percent as a result of the company reporting revenue that exceeded Street expectations. The stock ended the regular session down 0.2 percent at $146.54.
Approximately 5.5 billion shares changed hands on major domestic equity exchanges, as compared to the 5.9 billion share daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.