U.S. stocks advanced on Tuesday as price target upgrades of Caterpillar and Google offset disappointing Citigroup results and worries about another medical leave by Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were trading near session highs, with the Dow not far below its intraday high.

Shares of Apple Inc slid 1.5 percent to $343.20 after the company said Jobs is taking his third medical leave since 2004, reviving concerns about the future of the maker of the iPad and iPhone.

But the stock of the bellwether technology company, due to report after the bell, pared losses from early trading. Apple has about a 21 percent weighting in the Nasdaq 100 <.NDX>, which was down just 0.04 percent after briefly turning positive.

Offsetting the news was a gain in shares of Google, up 2.3 percent at $638.68, after several brokerages raised their price target on the company's stock. Google is due to report results later this week.

The Dow also rose moderately, boosted by gains in Caterpillar Inc . The stock was up 2.6 percent at $96.01 after Raymond James raised its price target on the stock to $116 from $95.

Optimism about earnings have helped bolster stocks in recent weeks, with the S&P 500 posting its seventh straight week of gains on Friday.

The economy is still expanding stronger than people thought it was going to be three months ago ... Companies by and large are going to give stronger December quarter reports and strong outlooks, said Edward Hemmelgarn, founder, president, and chief investment officer of Shaker Investments in Cleveland.

It's hard for me to envision the stock market moving down in the next six months.

Adding to the Dow's gains were shares of Boeing, which jumped 3.1 percent to $72.26 as investors were relieved the widely expected delay of the company's 787 Dreamliner was not longer.

On the downside was Citigroup Inc , whose shares fell 5.8 percent to $4.83 after the No. 3 U.S. bank reported a sharp drop in bond trading revenue that pushed profits below expectations.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 61.53 points, or 0.52 percent, at 11,848.91. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 0.92 point, or 0.07 percent, at 1,294.16, just a touch below its session high. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 3.55 points, or 0.13 percent, at 2,758.85, near its intraday high at 2,759.23.

Earlier, the Dow traded as high intraday as 11,858.78, a fresh 52-week high.

The financial SPDR exchange-traded fund was off 0.7 percent and the KBW bank index <.BKX> dropped 1 percent after recent gains. Stronger-than-expected results from JPMorgan Chase & Co last Friday buoyed optimism about bank stocks, which had rallied in recent weeks.

Bank of America Corp was down 1.8 percent at $14.98. The bank is set to report results later this week.

With the financial SPDR ETF, we've been locked in a range for 16 to 18 months, so it appears it's going to test the upward boundary ... If we can consistently trade above that, that's going to attract more buying, said John Kosar, director of research at Asbury Research in Chicago.

Resistance is seen around $17.12 in the SPDR ETF , the April high, Kosar said.

The financial sector was underinvested, Kosar said, adding that it has room to run higher in the near term.

(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; Editing by Jan Paschal)