U.S. stocks closed narrowly mixed Tuesday, amid major earnings reports and ahead of the week's central bank meetings.
Shares of McDonald's had their worst day since July 23, 2009, with a decline of 4.47 percent Tuesday, after same-store sales growth disappointed. Quarterly earnings of $1.45 a share, ex-items, did beat expectations.
"It's McDonald's that's weighing on the stocks," said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Boston Private Wealth, whose clients own the stock.
"I wasn't thrilled with the earnings report," he said. "I do believe it has long-term potential."
The stock had the greatest negative impact on the Dow Jones industrial average, which closed mildly lower while the two other major indexes ended higher. Industrials and materials led advancers in the S&P 500, while Caterpillar and United Technologies had the greatest positive impact on the Dow.
Caterpillar gained more than 5 percent and hit a 52-week intraday high after reporting earnings that beat on both the top and bottom line. United Technologies also hit a 52-week intraday high and closed 3.1 percent higher. The firm raised full-year guidance and posted quarterly earnings that beat on both the top and bottom line.
Earlier, the Dow briefly fell 100 points and the S&P 500 abruptly fell to session lows of 2,160 around 11 a.m. ET, before closing a few points below session highs. Traders were chattering about a sell program, and also pointed to technical levels.
The S&P hit an all-time intraday high of 2,175.63 last Wednesday, and set a closing record Friday of 2,175.03.
"Right now it's a very technical trade. We failed at the highs from last week," said Jeremy Klein, chief market strategist at FBN Securities. Now he said traders were looking for the index to hold last Thursday's intraday low around 2,160.
"I wouldn't look too much into today's price action because it keeps the SPX within its several-day consolidation phase," BTIG Chief Technical Strategist Katie Stockton said in an email. "The period of consolidation has helped alleviate widespread short-term overbought conditions (as of July 14th)."
U.S. crude oil futures settled down 21 cents, or half a percent, at $42.92 a barrel. Intraday, oil hit its lowest since April 20.
The Nasdaq composite outperformed, with the iShares PHLX Semiconductor ETF (SOXX) closing nearly 3.9 percent higher.
Apple closed more than two-thirds of a percent lower, ahead of its earnings report due after the close. The stock ended below its 50-day moving average for the first time since early July.
Before the open, 3M posted earnings that beat by one cent a share, on revenue a touch below estimates. The firm lowered its guidance for 2016 sales growth. Shares closed 1.1 percent lower.
Verizon reported quarterly earnings that topped expectations on revenue that missed. The telecommunications giant said a seven-week workers' strike hurt results. Shares closed 1.9 percent lower.
DuPont closed 0.4 percent higher after posting earnings that beat on both the top and bottom line, and raised its full-year forecast.
"It looks like the rebound is beginning to occur in earnings," said David Kelly, chief global strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds.
The Federal Open Market Committee is scheduled to conclude its two-day meeting Wednesday afternoon with its statement on monetary policy. Traders do not expect the Fed to raise interest rates, but will watch for indications on the timing of the next hike.
"On the Federal Reserve, I can't come up for any rationale for them to not to raise rates except that no one expects them to," Kelly said.
"I do think September is a live meeting. I think they'll try to establish that," he said.
The U.S. dollar index was mildly lower, with the euro near $1.099 and the yen near 104.6 around the U.S. stock market close.
The yen eased against the dollar after hitting its strongest level against the greenback in nearly two weeks, ahead of the Bank of Japan's scheduled meeting later in the week.
"There's no main headline driving this bid in the yen today. Certainly (there's) the idea the Bank of Japan may disappoint once again," said Adam Button, currency analyst at ForexLive.com.