By Sinead Carew
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stock indexes clung to small gains on Tuesday after losing ground in the late afternoon on investor jitters about making big bets as they awaited the outcome of U.S. midterm congressional elections.
Gridlock between the White House and Congress could hinder Trump's pro-business agenda and raise concerns about political instability, but most analysts say this may not be the worst outcome for the stock market.
"The market backed off a little bit. It may be some concern as to the extent in which the Democrats take the House: how many seats versus what the expectation is," said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O'Neil Securities in New York. "It's a little bit of the market trying to hedge itself. Surprises, as we know, can always happen."
At 2:43 p.m. (1943 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> rose 57.07 points, or 0.22 percent, to 25,518.77, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 4.11 points, or 0.15 percent, to 2,742.42 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 6.22 points, or 0.08 percent, to 7,335.07.
Some investors have said there could be a sharp selloff if the Democrats gain control of both the House and the Senate. In contrast, stocks may rally on hopes of more tax cuts if Republicans retain control of the House.
"The market's wanting the election to be done so investors can assess the implications. We're still within the rebound after the October decline. I don't know if we're out of the woods yet," said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.
The trade-sensitive industrial sector <.SPLRCI> pared earlier gains but was still up 0.8 percent.
Healthcare stocks <.SPXHC> got a boost from Mylan NV
The health sector will be under the spotlight as Trump's efforts to lower prescription drug prices could get more attention should Democrats gain control in Congress.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.35-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.34-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.