The Dow industrials and S&P 500 eked out slight gains to close higher on Monday after two days of declines, though a drop in oil prices weighed on energy shares and investors remained cautious amid geopolitical tensions and ongoing political turmoil in Washington.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 29 points, or 0.13%, to 21,704, the S&P 500 gained three points, or 0.12%, to 2,428 and the Nasdaq Composite fell three points, or 0.05%, to 6,213.
Market participants began to turn their focus to the Federal Reserve meeting at Jackson Hole, Wyoming later this week which will be attended by Fed Chair Janet Yellen, European Central Bank president, Mario Draghi, and other global central bankers.
Investors are looking for further direction on where monetary policy is headed given persistently low inflation in the US and Europe.
Geopolitical concerns are still weighing on investor sentiment also. The US and South Korea began their annual autumn joint military exercises on Monday, heightening tensions with North Korea.
The S&P 500 energy index was down 0.6%, leading sector declines in the S&P 500, with US crude oil prices settling down 2.4%, giving back last week's gains.
In company news, shares of sporting good retailers took a hit after analysts downgraded ratings on Nike (NKE.N), Foot Locker (FL.N) and other companies. Nike's shares fell 2.4%, while Foot Locker shares slid 7.4%.
Johnson Controls (JCI.N) rose 3.3%, among the top S&P 500 gainers, after saying its CEO change would happen earlier than announced.
Herbalife (HLF.N) surged 9.8% after the nutritional supplement maker said it would buy back $600 million of shares after ending talks to be taken private.
In Asia, share indexes were mixed on Tuesday in morning session as investors turned their attention to the US Federal Reserve's annual symposium in Jackson Hole at the end of the week.
Japan's Nikkei 225 erased earlier losses to trade flat. Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi climbed 0.30%. Down Under, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.12%.
Greater China markets were mixed: Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.85% in early trade, but mainland markets were subdued. The Shanghai Composite was shed 0.13% and the Shenzhen Composite slid 0.15%.