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Stocks mixed: Dow hit by earnings; S&P 500 avoids third day of losses

U.S. stocks finished mixed on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 rising for a first session in three, and the Dow knocked after results from Verizon Communications, Travelers Companies and Johnson & Johnson.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 44.12 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,414.44. Verizon fell after the telecommunications company reported fourth-quarter results. In a separate move, Verizon on Tuesday said it would purchase Intel's pay-television startup. The Travelers Companies lost ground after the insurance provider tallied a rise in fourth-quarter profit, but its margins troubled investors. Johnson & Johnson declined after the healthcare company projected 2014 earnings at the lower end of estimates.

All three had "reactions to what looked like good headline numbers but the proof was in the pudding," Elliot Spar, a market strategist at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., wrote in an afternoon note.

Corporate results so far have been mixed, with some yellow flags raised. "We still want to see it driven by revenue numbers increasing, but we are still seeing cost cutting" and other management moves keeping earnings in line, said Ian Kerrigan, a JP Morgan Private Bank investment specialist in Seattle. "The consumer is going to drive that top-line growth," added Kerrigan, who noted choppy, but positive trends in consumer sentiment amid rising home prices and reduced worries about dysfunction on Capitol Hill.

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After coming within points of its record high of 1,850.84 hit last week, the S&P 500 rose 5.10 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,843.80, its materials sector boosted by Alcoa's rise after JPMorgan upgraded its shares to overweight, and as Dow Chemical jumped on news Dan Loeb's Third Point had taken a $1.3 billion stake in the company.

Delta Airlines advanced to all-time highs after the carrier posted fourth-quarter results that beat expectations.

After hitting a more-than 13-year high, the Nasda advanced 28.18 points, up 0.7 percent, or 4,225.76.

The CBOE Volatility Index, a measure of investor uncertainty, rose 2.5 percent to 12.75.

The 10-year Treasury note edged higher to 2.831 percent, and the U.S. dollar firmed against other global currencies.

For every share falling, roughly two rose on the New York Stock Exchange, where 753 million shares traded. Composite volume neared 3.8 billion.

On the New York Mercantile exchange, crude futures priced a barrel of oil at $99.99, up 62 cents; gold futures for February delivery fell $10.00 or 0.8 percent, to $1,241.80 an ounce.

U.S. stocks mostly fell on Friday, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average managed to post its first weekly gain of the year, as Wall Street gauged a reduced outlook from United Parcel Service and earnings from corporations including General Electric and Morgan Stanley.

—By CNBC's Kate Gibson

Coming Up This Week:

Wednesday: Earnings: United Tech, Norfolk Southern, eBay, Netflix, F5Networks, Motorola Solutions, Abbott Labs, US Bancorp, St. Jude Medical, Noble, Northern Trust, Parker Hannifin, Raymond James, Ethan Allen, Teradyne, WesternDigital, Crown Castle. 7:00 a.m Eastern, mortgage applications.

Thursday: Earnings: Microsoft, Samsung, Starbucks, McDonald's, Fifth Third, Lockheed Martin, Nokia, Southwest Air, Johnson Controls, Celanese, Altera, Juniper Networks, KLA-Tencor, Synaptics, ETrade, Federated Investors, Intuitive Surgical, KeyCorp, AmerisourceBergen, Baxter, Union Pacific. 8:30 a.m.: initial claims, 8:58 a.m.: manufacturing PMI 9:00 a.m.: FHFA HPI, 10:00 a.m.: existing home sales, 10:00 a.m.: leading indicators.

Friday: Earnings: Bristol-Myers Squibb, Procter and Gamble, Honeywell, Kansas City Southern, Kimberly-Clark, Stanley Black & Decker, State Street, Xerox, Covidien, Prosperity Bancshares, WW Grainger.

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