Stocks claw out small gains chart for more of today's market action. By Blake Ellis, staff reporter

NEW YORK( -- Stocks ended in slightly positive territory Tuesday after seesawing throughout the session, as investors weighed readings on consumer confidence and housing against a slew of earnings reports.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) ticked up 5 points, the S&P 500 (SPX) rose less than a point, and the Nasdaq (COMP) gained 6 points.

Stocks climbed to six-month highs Monday, propelled higher by a stronger-than-expected report on existing home sales. But with so much uncertainty underlying the daily economic and corporate reports, volatility will continue to dominate.

"We've had a big run-up, so I don't see how they can go much higher," said Karl Mills, president and CIO at Jurika Mills & Keifer.

With the Nov. 2 elections approaching and the Federal Reserve's next policy meeting on tap early next month, the possibility of quantitative easing is also in the back of investors' minds.

"The belief is that quantitative easing is a done deal, and to a great extent that's why the market has been as buoyant as it has despite the fact that many leading indicators have stalled or gone down," said Ryan Atkinson, vice president of Balestra Capital. "But it's now late October, so a lot of players are sitting on the sidelines until the elections and FOMC meeting."

Economy: The Case-Shiller 20-City index of home prices in major metropolitan areas indicated that the housing market remained sluggish in August, with prices falling 0.2% from July. From a year earlier, prices edged up a modest 1.7%, missing the 2% rise economists had been expecting.

"[The report] is consistent with what we've been seeing," said Mills. "Housing isn't going to be coming back robustly any time soon here. We're going to have a long recovery period."

After the start of trading, the Conference Board released a report showing that consumer confidence inched up in October, but remained at historically low levels. The index rose to 50.2 from 48.6 in September, coming in slightly higher than the reading of 49 economists had forecast.

"Confidence may be improving, but with the housing market still real early in what may be a turnaround and unemployment running so high, there are still a whole lot of people out there not feeling so confident," said John Wilson, chief technical strategist at Morgan Keegan.

Companies: After the market close Tuesday, Barnes & Noble (BKS, Fortune 500) unveiled a new full-color, touchscreen version of its Nook e-reader. The company did not immediately announce the price of the new Nook Color.

Shares of Coach Inc. (COH) jumped 12% after the company posted a 34% rise in first-quarter profit and earnings of 63 cents a share -- topping analysts' estimates.

Ford (F, Fortune 500) reported third-quarter earnings that beat analysts' expectations. The automaker reported a profit of $1.7 billion, or 43 cents per share. Ford also announced plans to further pay down its debt. Shares rose 1.5%.

DuPont (DD, Fortune 500) exceeded forecasts by reporting quarterly earnings of 40 cents per share early Monday, despite a decline in pharmaceutical income related to patent expirations. Shares of the company slipped 1%.

Shares of Sony (SNE) rose 1% Tuesday, on media speculation that the electronics maker might be a takeover target for Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500).

Shares of Lexmark (LXK) tumbled 21% after the printer-maker's CEO Paul Curlander announced that he will retire in the spring of 2011.

Late Monday, insurance giant AIG (AIG, Fortune 500) disclosed that its chief executive, Robert Benmosche, has been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing "aggressive" treatment. AIG shares jumped 2.3%.

World markets: European stocks finished with losses. Britain's FTSE 100 dropped 0.8%, and the DAX in Germany was down 0.4%. France's CAC 40 slipped 0.5%.

Asian markets ended the session lower. The Shanghai Composite was off 0.3%, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong was 0.1% lower. Japan's Nikkei fell by 0.2%.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar strengthened against the euro and the Japanese yen, but fell against the British pound.

Oil for December delivery added 3 cents to settle at $82.55 a barrel.

Gold futures for December delivery fell 30 cents to $1,338.60 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury fell, pushing the yield up to 2.65% from 2.57% late Monday.  To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.07%4.28%
15 yr fixed3.18%3.26%
5/1 ARM3.36%3.43%
30 yr refi4.05%4.21%
15 yr refi3.17%3.18%
Rate data provided
View rates in your area
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,098.45 18.88 0.11%
Nasdaq 4,580.27 22.58 0.50%
S&P 500 2,003.37 6.63 0.33%
Treasuries 2.34 0.01 0.39%
Data as of 10:43am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.09 0.08 0.50%
Apple Inc 102.50 0.25 0.24%
Intel Corp 34.92 0.27 0.78%
Facebook Inc 74.82 0.96 1.31%
General Electric Co 25.98 -0.03 -0.12%
Data as of Aug 29


The deal would value Vice at $2.5 billion. The online media company would also create content for the cable network, delivering a wider audience. More

Gas prices are falling to nearly $3 a gallon in some parts of South Carolina, and that will soon be common in much of the country. More

Netflix told the FCC that its speed on the Comcast network became so slow that customers began dropping their service. More

The Coolest Cooler is the most successful Kickstarter campaign in the site's history, raising $13.3 million from over 62,000 backers. More

Five CNNMoney readers share stories about saving that you can learn from: What they would do differently if they had another chance. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.