US stocks traded mixed in early trade on Wednesday, following mixed earnings from financial heavyweights Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo and a government report showed that U.S. housing starts fell more than expected in December.

The S&P 500 Index declined 3.01 points, or 0.23 percent, to trade at 1,292.26 at 9:50 a.m. EDT. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 6.28 points, or 0.05 percent, to trade at 11,844.21. The Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.28 percent.

Shares of Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) declined 1.93 percent after reporting a 53 percent decline in fourth-quarter earnings to $3.79 a share, against analysts estimation of $3.76 per share. Revenue fell 10 percent to $8.64 billion, worse-than-expected, as net revenue in fixed income, currency and commodities client execution plunged 48 percent to $1.64 billion.

Meanwhile, Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC) posted fourth quarter profit of $3.4 billion, or $0.61 per share, compared with $2.8 billion, or $0.08 per share for fourth quarter 2009.

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) shares advanced 1.38 percent and IBM (NYSE: IBM) advanced 2.50 percent as results from the both companies have beaten analysts’ estimates, adding to evidence of a rebound in corporate spending on technology.

Construction of new homes and apartments starts fell 4.3 percent to an annualized rate of 529,000 in December, while new building permits, which give a sense of future home construction, jumped 16.7 percent to an annualized rate of 640,000 in December, the highest level last March, from a revised 544,000 in November.

On Tuesday, US stocks ended modestly higher despite some negative developments with market behemoths Apple and Citigroup (NYSE: C). Apple shares tumbled 2.25 percent in regular trading on worries about CEP Steve Jobs’ health in the wake of his medical leave, while Citi shares plunged 6.04 percent on disappointing earnings results.

The euro advanced 0.96 percent to 1.3516 against the dollar and the yen gained 0.59 percent against the greenback.

Crude oil futures advanced 0.46 percent to $91.80/barrel and gold futures rose 0.60 percent.

European stock markets are currently trading lower with FTSE 100 down by 18.52 points, DAX30 down by 15.03 points and CAC 40 down by 7.58 points.