U.S. stocks were little changed on Tuesday as sliding revenue in financial companies pointed to a struggling economy.
Earnings from healthcare company Johnson & Johnson and a stronger-than-expected reading in housing starts buoyed specific sectors, but the S&P 500 index struggled to rise solidly above the key 1,300 level.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc , the largest U.S. investment bank, fell 1.4 percent to $151.64 after it posted a decline in quarterly earnings as trading revenue dropped, and cautioned there were fewer opportunities to make money in the current environment.
Revenues in financial earnings are below expectations, and (other sectors) are not providing enough of a positive surprise either, said Subodh Kumar, chief investment strategist at Subodh Kumar & Associates in Toronto.
That means future business is not as strong as markets have thought, and future business in financials is a glimpse that the economy is still fairly fragile.
Johnson & Johnson , up 2.8 percent to $62.15, was the top boost to the Dow after reporting stronger-than-expected sales and earnings.
An index of pharmaceutical shares <.DRG> gained 0.4 percent.
Homebuilders largely outperformed the market after government data showed U.S. housing starts and permits for future home construction rose more than expected in March.
PulteGroup rose 3.2 percent to $8.09 and KB Home added 1 percent to $11.41.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 12.26 points, or 0.10 percent, to 12,213.85. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> added 0.34 points, or 0.03 percent, to 1,305.48. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> dropped 4.90 points, or 0.18 percent, to 2,730.48.
Seagate Technology Plc fell 3.4 percent to $17.23 after it posted results and announced a deal to buy Samsung Electronics Co's <005930.KS> hard disk business for $1.4 billion in cash and stock.
Seagate's third-quarter profit was below market expectations on lower hard-drive shipments.
Other companies scheduled to report quarterly results later on Tuesday include Intel Corp , International Business Machines Corp , Yahoo Inc and CSX Corp .
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Kenneth Barry)