Stocks fell on Tuesday, threatening to break a six-day winning streak, as Johnson & Johnson's third-quarter sales figures disappointed investors.

Johnson & Johnson, the world's largest healthcare company by market value, posted a higher-than-expected profit and raised its full-year earnings outlook, but its sales came in lower than Wall Street's consensus. The shares slipped 2.9 percent to $60.72.

The J&J news seems to be major factor causing some profit taking, said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer at Solaris Asset Management in Bedford Hills, New York.

Ghriskey said that whisper expectations, or private earnings forecasts talked about on Wall Street, may be too high. Does everybody already expect companies to beat at least on the bottom line? And is the focus going to be just on the top line? he asked.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dropped 56.68 points, or 0.57 percent, to 9,829.12. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> dropped 8.24 points, or 0.77 percent, to 1,067.95. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> dropped 9.22 points, or 0.43 percent, to 2,129.92.

Crude oil pared gains to trade below $74 per barrel mid-morning as the U.S. dollar recovered some of its earlier losses, removing the earlier boost to energy and natural resource stocks.

Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold Inc fell 1 percent to $73.69 while ConocoPhilips fell 1.5 percent to $50.61.

Prominent U.S. banking analyst Meredith Whitney downgraded her rating on Goldman Sachs Group Inc to neutral from buy, and the shares fell 2.4 percent to $185.63.

Other calls in the bank sector included Deutsche Bank starting Citigroup Inc with a buy rating and Barclays raising its third-quarter earnings outlook on JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Citigroup's shares added 0.4 percent to $4.79 but JPMorgan fell 2.8 percent to $44.75.

Intel Corp , the world's largest chip maker and a bellwether for the technology sector as well as an indicator of business demand, is set to report earnings after the bell. The stock was unchanged at $20.40.

The S&P 500 managed a sixth consecutive day of gains on Monday to end at its closing high for the year as energy shares rose alongside the price of oil.

(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)