Stocks started the trading day with solid gains but drifted lower throughout the session to finish with a smaller uptick. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) rose by less than 0.25%, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) finished flat on Tuesday.

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Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

Financial stock funds and funds tied to the price of gold attracted heavy investor interest. The Financial Sector SPDR Select ETF (NYSEMKT:XLF) slipped by 0.25%, while a drop in gold prices produced a 1.44% dip in the Direxion Daily Gold Miners Bull 3X ETF (NYSEMKT:NUGT).

Wall St. sign outside the stock exchange in New York city

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Several individual stocks, including General Motors (NYSE:GM) and Michael Kors (NYSE:CPRI), stood out from an overall calm market as earnings season moved into high gear. 

Michael Kors lowers its outlook

Michael Kors shares fell by 10.8% after the luxury retailer announced surprisingly weak quarterly results. Sales for the holiday period fell 3% to $1.35 billion, which was below the low end of the guidance range that management issued in early November. Executives were pleased with demand for new product launches including seasonal handbag collections. Sales also improved at a healthy pace overall in the China region. However, the major U.S. and European markets suffered from weak customer traffic trends, which pushed comparable-store sales down by a surprising 6.9%.

On the bright side, earnings were protected as the retailer reduced its reliance on promotions. Gross profit margin held steady at 60% of sales and net income only fell slightly to $271 million, or $1.64 per share. "We delivered earnings per share results that were in line with our expectations," CEO John Idol said in a prepared statement, "and we continued to focus on our growth pillars."

These growth initiatives include innovative fashion launches and a bulked-up e-commerce presence. Yet Idol and his team see the weak customer traffic trends continuing, and so they lowered their full-year outlook to $4.48 billion from the prior $4.55 billion target. Expected operating margin was also downgraded slightly, to 19.9% of sales from 20.5%.

General Motors sets records

General Motors' stock fell 4.7% following the release of its fourth-quarter earnings report that showed a mixed global performance for the automaker. Overall, the company sold 2.8 million vehicles, up 3% over the prior year. Market share ticked higher, and adjusted earnings also hit a record thanks to firm pricing, especially in the North American market. "By almost any measure, 2016 was a great year for our business," CEO Mary Barra said in a press release.

A smiling man gets the keys to his new car

Image source: Getty Images.

The report wasn't all good news, though. GM lost money in the European market in both the quarter and the full year, even though management believes it would have achieved its goal of slight profitability were it not for the currency disruption caused by the Brexit vote. The South American region is also operating at a loss thanks to recessions in key markets, including Brazil.

Looking ahead, the company says Brexit impacts will continue through 2017, which could produce another year of minor losses in Europe. In the U.S. market, meanwhile, GM aims to stay disciplined on incentives while seeking to get the most out of new product launches, which together have a good shot at helping it maintain or improve adjusted earnings to about $6.25 per share up from $6 per share in the fiscal year that just closed.