U.S. stocks eked out a gain on Tuesday as investors looked ahead to earnings from big banks and tech bellwethers, even as disappointing revenue from Alcoa Inc acted as a headwind.

With the Standard & Poor's index up about 40 percent over the past year, some analysts say stock gains during earnings season could be minimal as equities tend to do worse in earnings periods after making gains in anticipation of strong results.

Alcoa late on Monday reported revenue that failed to meet expectations, sending its stock down 3.2 percent to $14.11.

Alcoa is just one company, but if that's the norm, there's going to be some resistance, said Paul Kasriel, senior vice president at Northern Trust in Chicago.

Dow component Intel Corp rose 0.6 percent to $22.68. The chipmaker was due to report after Tuesday's market close. A positive earnings surprise is likely, according to Thomson Reuters Starmine.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> maintained its perch above 11,000. It ended above that level for the first time since September 2008 on Monday.

Even though the Dow closed above 11,000 again, it is poised to encounter formidable resistance ahead, according to market technicians.

The 200-week moving average is 1.2 percent above the current levels at 11,133 and the 61.8 percent Fibonacci retracement level -- the next critical resistance -- is 2.2 percent higher, at 11,256.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> ended up 0.81 point, or 0.07 percent, at 1,197.29. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 8.12 points, or 0.33 percent, at 2,465.99.

Bank shares fell as UBS cut its rating on regional banks including KeyCorp , down 1.9 percent at $8.18. A regional bank index <.KRX> dipped 1 percent.

Ambac Financial sank 12 percent to $1.98 and was the most actively traded stock on the New York Stock Exchange. Earlier, JPMorgan analysts said that the bond insurer's stock had little value.

Petrohawk Energy Corp agreed to sell half its stake in its Haynesville operations to Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP for $875 million. Petrohawk shares gained 3.1 percent to $23.32 while Kinder slid 1.5 percent to $66.24.

S&P 500 earnings are expected to rise 37.1 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Among companies reporting, retailer Talbots Inc gained 5.5 percent to $15.18 after posting an adjusted fourth-quarter profit that was sharply higher than consensus.

Corporate results scheduled for later this week include JPMorgan Chase & Co , Google Inc and Bank of America Corp .

The White House said momentum was building for the effort to rewrite U.S. financial regulations and urged Republicans to join the push.

About 9.11 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, below last year's estimated daily average of 9.65 billion.

There were a roughly equal number of advancing as declining stocks on the NYSE, while on the Nasdaq, slightly more stocks rose than fell.

(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Kenneth Barry)