The Dow industrials and the S&P 500 eked out slim gains, while the Nasdaq dipped on Tuesday as a sharp drop in July consumer confidence curbed the enthusiasm stirred by more robust earnings.
The benchmark S&P 500 index hovered above its 200-day moving average at 1,113. A close above that level would indicate market strength.
Economic data has raised concerns that the U.S. recovery has stalled while the latest earnings reports have sent more optimistic signals on the economy. On Monday, U.S. stocks rallied after an upbeat outlook from FedEx .
For companies, it seems growth hasn't ground to a halt, and that is very important for the stock market, said Marc Pado, U.S. market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald & Co, in San Francisco.
But the balance of the market is in a bit of a pullback phase, and consumer confidence is weighing today, he said.
Consumer confidence fell in July to its lowest point since February, hurt by worries about the job market, according to a report from the Conference Board, a private research group.
But the Dow got a lift from DuPont & Co
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 26.04 points, or 0.25 percent, to 10,551.47. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> inched up 0.99 of a point, or 0.09 percent, to 1,116.00. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> slipped 4.02 points, or 0.18 percent, to 2,292.41.
Companies sensitive to economic cycles ranked among the biggest decliners, including heavy equipment maker Caterpillar Inc , down 1.2 percent at $69.11.
On the Nasdaq, shares of Paccar Inc fell 2.7 percent to $45.73 despite stronger-than-expected quarterly results. Paccar makes big commercial trucks under brands that include Peterbilt and Kenworth.
In other earnings news, Cummins Inc , the engines and power-generation equipment maker, climbed 1.8 percent to $79.28 after reporting stronger-than-expected quarterly results and raising its annual forecast on strong demand overseas.
Some 41 percent of S&P 500 companies have reported earnings so far this period.
The S&P 500 hit a session high just above 1,120, around the midpoint between its 2007 historic high and a 12-year low hit in 2009. That retracement is seen by analysts as strong technical resistance.
(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; Editing by Jan Paschal)