Stocks turned mixed in quiet trading after a varied batch of earnings reports, as investors took a step back after sending the market to multi-year highs in April.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fluctuated between positive and negative territory throughout the morning session afteredging slightly lower on Monday, reversing earlier gains following the announcement of Osama Bin Laden’s death.
Among Dow components, Alcoa , Bank of America and Intel rose, while Pfizer and Cisco gained.
The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq fell slightly. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market,rose above 16.
Among key S&P sectors, energy and materials declined, while telecom advanced.
U.S. factory orders gained 3 percent to a seasonally adjusted $463 billion in March, the Commerce Department reported. The gain was the fifth in a row, and was above the 1.9 percent gain estimated by economists polled by Reuters.
A survey by Charles Schwab indicated 72 percent of so-called active traders who are receiving a tax refund plan plan to invest the proceeds in the stock market. Schwab defines active traders as individual investors who trade at least 36 times a year.
Schwab also said 47 percent of its active traders are bullish, up from 38 percent in November, and up from 28 percent in April 2010.
The dollar, which is hovering near a three-year low against a basket of currencies, traded flat. Earlier, a slight rise in the dollar sent commodity prices lower. Oil prices fellmore than 1 percent while gold sankmore than 1 percent and silver continued tumbled another 5 percent.