The Dow and S&P 500 fell on Tuesday after Johnson & Johnson reported disappointing third-quarter sales, while the Nasdaq edged up after Cisco Systems Inc announced a large acquisition.

Johnson & Johnson, while beating Wall Street's earnings expectations, reported revenue that came in below forecasts. Shares of the diversified healthcare company, a Dow component, fell 2.6 percent to $60.89.

Revenue growth is the key thing this earning season, as it would confirm the economy is growing, said John Canally, investment strategist and economist for LPL Financial in Boston.

While the Dow and S&P 500 fell after Johnson &Johnson's results, the Nasdaq rose, lifted by Cisco's 0.7 percent gain to $23.96 after it agreed to buy Starent Networks Corp for $2.9 billion, or $35 per share. Starent makes telecommunications equipment.

M&A activity is a good sign, especially in the tech sector, Canally said. It's a sign that there's more risk-taking, and it heralds an increase in employment.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> fell 9.60 points, or 0.10 percent to 9,876.20. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> dropped 2.66 points, or 0.25 percent, to 1,073.53. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> rose 1.47 points, or 0.07 percent, to 2,140.62.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc fell 2 percent to $186.41 after influential banking analyst Meredith Whitney downgraded the stock to neutral from buy, saying the upside could be limited for the financial services company in the medium term.

The S&P 500 managed a sixth consecutive day of gains on Monday to end at its closing high for the year as energy shares rose alongside the price of oil.

Key earnings due after the close included Intel Corp , a Dow component, and railroad operator CSX Corp . Ahead of the reports, Intel shares edged up 0.5 percent to $20.49 while CSX was down 1.2 percent to $44.38.

Shares of freight carrier RailAmerica Inc dropped 6.4 percent to $14.04 in their trading debut on Tuesday, after the company's $330 million initial public offering.

Also on Tuesday, Investor's Business Daily and TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence said their IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index slipped to 48.7 in October from 52.5 in September. Any reading below 50 indicates pessimism in consumer confidence.

(Editing by Kenneth Barry)