Quarterly earnings reports and corporate alliances were some of the catalysts behind the most actively traded stocks on Tuesday.
Airline stocks rose on a drop in crude oil prices and were led by gains for United Airlines parent company UAL and US Airways Group. UAL shares traded to multi-month highs after the company reported strong quarterly earnings due to improved cost controls and a robust summer travel season.
Kimberly-Clark raised its full-year outlook and raised its 2007 buyback plan to $2.8 billion.
Consumer staples stocks such as Procter & Gamble and Colgate-Polmolive were also acting well.
"When you have a negative tape those are classic flight-to-quality stocks," said Tom Schrader, managing director of US listed trading at Stifel Nicolaus. "You always need soap, you always need Kleenex, you always need drugs."
Microvision shares surged more than 15% after the display and imaging company announced a deal with cell phone maker Motorola. Microvision said it will co-develop laser-based projection technology to enable big-screen viewing from mobile devices.
Shares of real estate investment trust Republic Property Trust rose more than 20% after fellow REIT Liberty Property Trust said it would acquire the company for about $384 million in cash, or $14.70 a share.
Overall trading action was largely negative after a number of companies reported disappointing quarterly earnings.
Peter Kang is a markets writer at CNBC.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.