Wall Street was mixed as disappointing results from companies including IBM and Coach left investors uneasy about stock valuations.
"It will be easier to unnerve a market with less earnings confidence, and you are seeing companies like IBM and Coach that have come out and leave the investor looking for something substantial to bite into," Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital in Bernardsville, New Jersey, told Reuters.
In afternoon trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.22 percent. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.09 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.41 percent.
Of the 81 S&P 500 companies that have posted results so far this season, 70 percent have beaten estimates for profit and 64 percent have exceeded sales projections, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Shares of IBM, last down 3.5 percent, led the decline in the Dow.
IBM reported that revenue dropped 5.5 percent to US$27.7 billion in the fourth quarter and said the company's executives will forgo their bonuses.
"While we made solid progress in businesses that are powering our future, in view of the company's overall full year results, my senior team and I have recommended that we forgo our personal annual incentive payments for 2013," Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.
Shares of Coach sank, last down 6.9 percent, amid concern about a persistent slide in sales and market share in North America.
"Weakness in our North American women's bag and accessories business offset strong growth in Men's, footwear, and robust results in emerging Asian markets and Europe," Victor Luis, chief executive officer of Coach, said in a statement. "We continued to be disappointed by our performance in North America, which was impacted by substantially lower traffic in our stores and by our decision to limit access to our e-factory flash sales site."
Analysts said the maker of luxury handbags has fallen out of touch with current trends.
"These guys are definitely losing share," Edward Jones analyst Brian Yarbrough told Reuters. "Fashionwise, they're missing the beat."
Europe's Stoxx 600 Index rose 0.1 percent. France's CAC 40 added nearly 0.1 percent. Both Germany's DAX and the UK's FTSE 100 fell 0.1 percent.
Spain drew huge demand at its latest government debt auction. The Treasury issued 10 billion euros of debt after receiving more than 39.6 billion euros of bids.
The demand for the new Spanish issue would have been "unthinkable a year ago," Jim Vogel, head of agency-debt research at FTN Financial in Memphis, Tennessee, wrote in a research note, Bloomberg News reported. "Global commitment to fixed income as an asset class remains off the charts given low rates and spread compression."
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