NEW YORK -  The Dow rose closer to 20,000 points early Tuesday in a subdued post-holiday session ahead of key consumer confidence data .

About 15 minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 19,977.58, up 0.2 percent. The broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.4 percent to 2,273.21, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.8 percent to 5,503.50.

The blue-chip index has been within striking distance of the 20,000 landmark since mid-December, but has so far failed to cross the line. Some analysts have thought it could drift above 20,000 in the post-Christmas period, when trade volume is light.

The Conference Board's report on consumer confidence in December is expected to show a reading of 109.8, up from the 107.1 reading the prior month. The S&P Case-Shiller home price index covering 20 major cities saw a 0.6 percent increase on a seasonally adjusted basis in October.

Biotech company Biogen rose 2.5 percent on news that the US Food and Drug Administration approved its Spinraza drug for spinal muscular atrophy. Ionis Pharmaceuticals, which developed the drug with Biogen, jumped 3.4 percent.

Fred's Pharmacy dipped 0.6 percent after announcing it adopted a shareholder's rights plan to protect the company after Alden Global Capital last week announced that it amassed a stake of almost 25 percent of common shares.