S&P 500 ends about flat after mixed earnings, opening glitch

STORY: Wall Street's main indexes ended mixed after a rocky start to the session on Tuesday, as more than 80 NYSE-listed stocks were halted at the opening bell due to an apparent technical glitch.

By the end of the session, the Dow closed up nearly a third of a percent. The S&P 500 fell but ended basically flat, while the Nasdaq lost about a quarter of a percent.

Aside from the glitch, which caused initial price confusion and prompted an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, earnings were in focus.

A raft of mixed earnings took some wind out of the sails of the recent stock market rally.

Dryden Pence, chief investment officer at Pence Capital, said investors were waiting to see how more of the earnings season plays out.

"Where we are is in this strange moment that everybody's holding their breath a little bit. We were trying to get, we're at the beginning of earnings season. We're seeing some of the earnings begin to come in. The beats are not as high as the beats were, maybe, going to be. So we're in this tug of war between earnings doing alright but not great, and we've seen the market move up a little bit because of, really, multiple expansion. You know, in the last two earnings seasons, we had multiples around low 16x. Now, we're at multiples around 18x. So sentiment is moving the market forward. We've seen this rise at the first part of the year. But, really, I think everybody is really cautiously waiting to see how earnings come through."

After the closing bell, Microsoft reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit as strong performance at its cloud services business helped offset a slump in the PC market, sending shares 4% higher in extended trading.

Shares of 3M ended more than 6% lower after the maker of Post-it notes reported downbeat fourth-quarter results and forecast a gloomy first quarter, as the industrial conglomerate struggles with slowing demand for consumer and electronic items.

Shares of General Electric ended more than a percent higher after reporting earnings that exceeded expectations on robust demand for jet engines and power equipment, but provided underwhelming forward guidance due to inflationary headwinds.

And shares of Alphabet ended about 2% lower after the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Google accusing the company of abusing its dominance of the digital advertising business.