Jan. 16, 2013 at 12:54 PM ET
Stocks shaved their losses after a weak open Wednesday, after a report showed homebuilder sentiment held steady at near seven year highs in January and following a pair of upbeat bank earnings, but worries over global economic growth kept a damper on gains.
Meanwhile, the Dow Transport index traded at a new all-time high, surging more than 15 percent in the last two months. (Read More: 10 Stocks Driving Transports to Historic Highs)
The S&P 500 bobbed in and out of positive territory, while the Nasdaq traded higher. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, traded near 13.
Among key S&P sectors, telecoms and materials slipped, while techs and energy gained.
Among earnings, Goldman Sachs rallied after the financial giant posted fourth-quarter earnings that nearly tripled, helped by gains in stock and bond values, increased M&A revenue and lower compensation expenses.
And JPMorgan Chase declined even after the largest U.S. bank beat earnings expectations, thanks to increased mortgage lending profit and a decline in costs for bad loans. Separately, the firm slashed CEO Jamie Dimon's bonus in half, citing the company's $6.2 billion "London Whale" trading loss last year. (Read More: Forget Earnings: What Wall Street's Really Watching)
Rivals Bank of America and Citigroup are slated to post earnings Thursday morning.
EBay is scheduled to post results after the closing bell. (Read More: Technology Now a Drag on US Earnings)
Meanwhile, the World Bank slashed its outlook for world growth to 2.4 percent in 2013, saying a slow recovery in developed nations is holding back the global economy.
On the economic front, homebuilder sentiment remained unchanged in January after eight months of consecutive gains, but held at the highest level since April 2006, according to the NAHB's sentiment index. Homebuilders Toll Brothers and Pulte remained under pressure.
Despite big earnings gains from the big public builders, overall confidence among the nation's home builders took a pause in January. An industry index measuring sentiment was unchanged after eight consecutive monthly gains. The index was heading toward the line between positive and negative sentiment, but appears to have stalled.
Consumer prices were unchanged in December, according to the Labor Department, giving the Federal Reserve space to prop up the economy by staying on its easy monetary policy path. And industrial production gained 0.3 percent in December, thanks to a pick-up in automobile production, according to the Federal Reserve after a 1 percent gain in November.
Boeing slumped on worries about the safety of its Dreamliners. Late Tuesday, Japan's ANA 787 made an emergency landing due to a battery malfunction warning in the cockpit, adding to a string of problems that occurred last week. Goldman Sachs cut its rating on the Dow component to "buy" from "conviction buy."
Talks to take Dell private advanced with at least four major banks lined up to provide financing, according to Reuters. A deal for the computer software company could be announced in two weeks and the price will likely be between $13.5 a share and $14 a share, with an equity investment from Silver Lake and other investors of roughly $2 billion, CNBC learned.
Apple climbed near $500 a share despite a round cuts from analysts—Pacific Crest lowered its rating on the company to "sector perform" from "outperform." Stifel and BofA Merrill reduced their price target to $725 and$720, respectively. Apple is the worst performer on the Nasdaq 100 index year to date and has plunged more than 25 percent from its all-time high of $705 a share. (Read More: Apple Trades Near $500 as Investors Dump Shares)
Research In Motion jumped to lead the Nasdaq 100 gainers after the BlackBerry maker said Visa has approved its mobile-payment solution, which will allow carriers to manage credentials on SIM cards.
Facebook dipped even after at least three brokerages raised their price target on the social-networking giant a day after the company announced a social search feature.
Chipotle tumbled after the fast-casual restaurant chain said it expects higher food costs to dampen its earnings despite stronger-than-expected sales.
Mortgage applications gained for a second week, according to the the Mortgage Bankers Association.
The Federal Reserve's January edition of the Beige Book, its region-by-region assessment of the economy, will be released at 2 pm ET.
—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)
Coming Up This Week:
WEDNESDAY: Beige Book, Fed's Fisher speaks, OPEC's monthly market report; Earnings from Ebay
THURSDAY: Housing starts, jobless claims, Philadelphia Fed survey, natural gas inventories, Fed's Lockhart speaks, Fed balance sheet, money supply; Earnings from Bank of America, Citigroup, UnitedHealth, BB&T, BlackRock, American Express, Intel, Capital One
FRIDAY: General Electric, Schlumberger, Morgan Stanley
© 2013 CNBC LLC. All Rights Reserved