Stocks finished mixed in volatile trading Tuesday, but uncertainty over the timing of Spain's bailout request and ongoing fears over the slowing global economy put a lid on gains.
“The market’s swinging around and there’s no conviction—people are nervous about a lot of things,” said Yu-Dee Chang, chief trader at ACE Investment Strategists. “The overall market’s concern is that the correction is not over.” (Read More: Earnings Season May Decide Market's Next Direction)
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 32.75 points, or 0.24 percent, to close at 13,482.36, led by DuPont , after kicking off the fourth quarter with a modest rally.
Despite October being a "jinx month" because of major crashes in 1929 and 1987, the Dow has not posted an October loss since 2008.
The S&P 500 eked out a gain of 1.26 points, or 0.09 percent, to finish at 1,445.75. The Nasdaq rose 6.51 points, or 0.21 pecent, to end at 3,120.04.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, closed below 16.
Among the key S&P sectors, materials dragged, while health care rose.
“The market runup was purely on expectations for QE3 and once the statement was issued, there’s been no new positive catalyst coming in,” said Natalie Trunow, CIO of Calvert Investments. “The only reason it’s stayed up is because the market is expecting the earnings season to come out better than expected…That’s hard to anticipate, but I don’t think we’re going to see a great deal of positive surprises.”
Third-quarter earnings season kicks off next week with Alcoa scheduled to report Tuesday.
Stocks reversed early gains after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy poured cold water on speculation that the country is from the ECB. Meanwhile, economic woes in the country continued to weigh as the latest jobs figures showed . European shares closed flat.
“Europe is still struggling and the economic fundamentals there are continuing to deteriorate,” said Trunow. “But people are focusing on policy action and not so much the underlying fundamentals.”
Among techs, Google briefly hit a fresh all-time highbefore retreating. Research In Motion jumped to lead the Nasdaq 100 index, closing at its highest level in nearly three months.
Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile USA is close to a deal to buy smaller rival MetroPCS. MetroPCS surged to lead the S&P 500 gainers, while Sprint slumped following the news.
JPMorgan was flat after the New York State Attorney General’s office filed a lawsuit against the bankover mortgage-backed securities.
Citigroup rose after Keefe, Bruyette & Woods upgraded the financial giant to "outperform" from "market perform" and lifted its price target to $44 from $40.
General Motors advanced after the largest U.S. automaker, posted a 1.5 percent increase in September auto sales, while Ford dipped after the company reported sales that were in line with results from a year ago. Meanwhile, Toyota's sales , easily topping expectations.
Boeing union members for labor agreements covering 23,000 workers, and plan to resume talks Tuesday.
PetSmart gained after S&P announced the pet-products retailer will become the newest component of the S&P 500 Index, replacing Sunoco after the close on October 4.
Express tumbled after the clothing retailer cut its third-quarter profit forecast, citing an "an abrupt change in traffic" last month.
—By CNBC’s JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)
Coming Up This Week:
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps, ADP employment report, ISM non-mfg index, oil inventories, H-P analysts mtg; Earnings from Family Dollar, Monsanto, Marriott
THURSDAY: Chain-store sales, Challenger job-cut report, jobless claims, factory orders, FOMC minutes
FRIDAY: Non-farm payrolls, consumer credit
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