A pending jobs report, Spain's finances and more weighed on investors.
NEW YORK - Mixed signals on the world economy tugged on major stock indexes Tuesday.
Mosaic, Dupont and stocks of other companies in the materials industry fell.
But utilities and health care stocks, where investors often retreat in a slow-growing economy, helped pull the Standard & Poor's 500 index above the break-even mark.
The S&P 500 index gained 1.26 to close at 1,445.75. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 32.75 points to 13,482.36. Dupont led the Dow lower, sinking 86 cents to $49.50.
The market could remain quiet until the government gives its monthly jobs report on Friday, said Paul Zemsky, chief investment officer of multi-asset strategies at ING Investment Management.
Economists expect the unemployment rate increased to 8.2 percent in September from 8.1 percent in August.
Zemsky said a surprise swing up or down "could change the direction of the stock market and the presidential election."
Indexes took a turn lower at midday after Spain's prime minister said he's not preparing a request for a bailout loan. Traders have been anticipating the Spanish government would ask for help for nearly a month.
Spain needs to ask for money from Europe's bailout fund before the European Central Bank can start buying Spanish government bonds.
Mosaic reported net income and sales early Tuesday that fell short of analysts' estimates. The company blamed slumping demand for its fertilizer overseas as well as hurricanes for slower production.
The results pushed the company's stock down $2.25 to $55.76.
In other trading, the Nasdaq composite rose 6.51 points to 3,120.04.