U.S. stocks fell on Tuesday as strong quarterly results from bellwethers such as Apple and Caterpillar were offset by disappointing data on housing starts and inflation.

New construction of U.S. homes rose less than expected in September, while U.S. producer prices declined unexpectedly, largely due to a drop in energy prices.

In any recovering economy, especially in the early stages where we are now, you are going to see some weak economic numbers, and we certainly see this in the PPI numbers and the housing numbers, said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management in Bedford Hills, New York.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dropped 50.56 points, or 0.50 percent, to 10,041.63. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> fell 5.80 points, or 0.53 percent, to 1,092.11. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> slid 9.36 points, or 0.43 percent, to 2,166.96.

Apple Inc jumped 4.8 percent to $198.95, a day after it reported quarterly profit that streaked past estimates, as sales of iPhones and Mac personal computers hit quarterly records.

Heavy machinery maker Caterpillar Inc climbed 3.3 percent to $59.69 after posting stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings and raising its full-year forecast.

DuPont Co reported an 11 percent jump in third-quarter profit, topping estimates, but narrowed its earnings forecast for the year. The stock shed 2 percent to $33.94.

Drugmaker Pfizer Inc's
quarterly profit was up and beat estimates, while diversified U.S. manufacturer United Technologies Corp reported a drop in income, but still beat estimates. Pfizer shares gained 2.2 percent to $18.37, and United Tech slipped 0.5 percent to $65.10.

Coca-Cola Co dipped 1.5 percent to $53.97 after reporting adjusted third-quarter earnings that were a penny above expectations.

Good earnings have increasingly been expected. This is a market where traders have been looking for an excuse to book some gains, added Ghriskey.

Boeing Co fell 4 percent to $51.38 after the airplane maker was downgraded to underweight by Morgan Stanley. The firm said the shares may face downward pressure due to likely poor aircraft order demand.

Adecco SA , the world's largest staffing company, agreed to buy U.S. rival MPS Group Inc for $1.3 billion. MPS shares surged 21.7 percent $13.56.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)