Wall Street's main indexes were muted on Tuesday as investors awaited key economic data that could decide the U.S. Federal Reserve's monetary tightening path, with gains in shares of Tesla capping losses on the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.

Tesla Inc rose 1.7% in early trade as sales of its China-made electric vehicles rose in March, bouncing back from 6% declines on Monday following data on March-quarter deliveries.

The stock's move made consumer discretionary shares the top gainer on the S&P 500, while energy stocks edged lower after a strong rally on Monday.

Rising oil prices following the OPEC+ group's output cuts have renewed fears about inflation, denting hopes of an end to aggressive interest rate hikes despite recent signs of cooling prices and turbulence in the banking sector.

"We think that it (soaring oil prices) will cause inflation to remain sticky and the Fed definitely wants to ensure that they have a stranglehold on inflation before they take their foot off the brake," said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist of CFRA Research in New York.

Bets by traders of a 25-basis point rate hike in May stood at 60%, with odds of a pause at 40%, according to CME Group's Fedwatch tool.

Later on Tuesday, investors will watch out for data on U.S. job openings that is likely to show a fall in February, as they attempt to assess if the aggressive rate hikes have cooled the economy to the Fed's satisfaction.

A separate report expected is likely to show factory orders fell 0.5% in February and will come on the heels of surveys showing weak U.S. manufacturing activity in March.

"Factory orders are expected to show a decline. That would imply that the war against inflation is working," Stovall said.

The S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq have gained 7.5% and 16.5% so far in 2023, steadying from their worst annual drop last year since the 2008 financial crisis.

At 9:39 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 5.83 points, or 0.02%, at 33,606.98, the S&P 500 was up 3.91 points, or 0.09%, at 4,128.42, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 7.55 points, or 0.06%, at 12,197.00.

Among stocks, Virgin Orbit Holdings Inc tanked 20.1% after the satellite launch company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on failing to secure long-term funding.

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc shares tumbled 15.9% after the movie theater chain said it agreed to settle litigation and proceed with converting its preferred stock into common shares.

Shares of Digital World Acquisition Corp fell 4.3% after the SPAC linked to former U.S. President Donald Trump delayed the filing of its annual financial report.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 1.10-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.27-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded nine new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 36 new highs and 38 new lows.