U.S. stocks declined in early trade on Tuesday, following mixed earnings from U.S. blue-chip companies, and news that UK economy unexpectedly shrunk in the fourth quarter.

The S&P 500 Index declined 4.59 points, or 0.36 percent, to trade at 1,286.96 at 09:50 a.m. EDT. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 36.56 points, or 0.31 percent, to trade at 11,943.96. The Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.53 percent.

Economy in the U.K. grew slower in the fourth quarter, hampered by high inflation and heavy snowfall. GDP growth shrunk by 0.5 percent in the fourth quarter, after rising 0.7 percent in the third quarter.
Investors are also likely to focus on the two-day meeting of the Fed which kicks off today.

Travelers Companies Inc. (NYSE:TRV) shares advanced 3.22 percent as the company posted a sharp decline in quarterly profit but above the analysts’ estimates and also said it was increasingly optimistic its business would improve this year.

3M Co. (NYSE: MMM) shares declined 2.15 percent. The company raised its 2001 earnings forecast and reported fourth quarter earnings of $928 million, or $1.28 per share, down from $935 million, or $1.30 per share, in the same period last year.

Tellabs Inc. (NASDAQ:TLAB) shares plunged 18.47 percent as the company swung to a fourth quarter loss of $10.9 million or 3 cents a share, compared with a profit of $62.1 million, or 16 cents a share in the same period a year ago.

Companies including Yahoo, Stryker, Molex and Gilead Sciences will report their quarterly earnings after the closing bell.

The euro declined 0.25 percent to 1.3604 against the dollar and the yen gained 0.11 percent against the greenback.

Crude oil futures declined 1.15 percent to $86.86/barrel and gold futures declined 1.20 percent.

European stock markets are currently trading mixed with FTSE 100 down by 23.79 points, DAX30 up by 16.88 points and CAC 40 down by 2.59 points.