The Nasdaq rose on Tuesday as investors bet that such bellwethers as Microsoft may be among the first sectors to see a recovery in demand, but the Dow and the S&P 500 were nearly flat on worries about the extent of the economic slump.

Minutes from the Federal Reserve's most recent meeting showed that policy-makers thought the economy was deteriorating and downside risks were high.

What it did was reinforce the idea that there's still problems out there in the economy, said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at Morgan Asset Management, in Birmingham, Alabama.

We may -- and the key word there is may -- have seen some inflection points with some of the data, but looking forward, there are still issues out there that are not resolved.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> shed 2.47 points, or 0.03 percent, to 7,787.09. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> added 4.18 points, or 0.51 percent, to 819.73. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> shot up 18.49 points, or 1.18 percent, to 1,580.10.

On the tech front, software maker Microsoft ranked among the Nasdaq's major advancers, up 2.2 percent at $19.17, while International Business Machines underpinned the Dow, up 1.8 percent at $100.49.

Technology stocks have held up relatively well despite the market's drop to 12-year lows last month.

But a sell-off in the shares of big manufacturers, including United Technologies Corp , off 2.4 percent at $44.07, offset the boost from tech shares.

Bank stocks were another drag, with Bank of America down nearly 6 percent at $5.71.

A proposed takeover in the home-builder sector helped limit losses, along with news that some life insurers had qualified for government aid.

Pulte Homes
said it would buy Texas-based builder Centex for $1.3 billion in stock, which helped set the market's tone. Shares of Centex shot up 18.4 percent to $9.02, while Pulte lost 11.2 percent to $9.56.

(Additional reporting by Ellis Mnyandu; Editing by Jan Paschal)