The S&P 500 briefly pared losses and turned positive after the open on Wednesday, led by gains in financials and materials stocks.

U.S. stocks had opened lower after data showed U.S. housing starts fell unexpectedly in October, offsetting strength in the natural resources sectors amid U.S. dollar weakness.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 0.40 points, or 0.04 percent, at 1,110.72. The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was down 11.94 points, or 0.11 percent, at 10,425.48. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> fell 5.88 points, or 0.27 percent, at 2,197.90.

(Reporting by Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)