Stocks fluctuated on Tuesday as losses in the consumer space extended into day two. The sector had sold off on Monday after disappointing monthly auto sales from Ford and General Motors.
The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were down 0.04%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.1% as gains in Caterpillar overshadowed losses in Nike.
Caterpillar jumped 2% after Goldman Sachs added it to its "Conviction Buy" list. Analysts said they are bullish on Caterpillar given "structurally higher mid-cycle" earnings per share, management's focus on improving returns of capital, and the company's "exposure to under-invested machinery markets in the early stages of recovery."
The U.S. trade deficit in February largely erased an increase seen the month earlier. The deficit fell by 9.6% to $43.6 billion in February after jumping 9.6% to $48.5 billion in January. The deficit had hit its highest level in nearly five years in the first month of the year. Imports fell 1.8% in February, while exports increased 0.2%.
Factory orders increased 1% in February, according to the Census Bureau. The result was in line with consensus estimates. Orders had risen 1.2% in January. New orders for manufactured goods have increased in seven of the past eight months.
Investors also were looking ahead to a back-loaded week of economic data, particularly the U.S. jobs numbers for March on Friday. It will likely be another month of strength in the U.S. labor market with 174,000 jobs expected to have been added to payrolls.
The unemployment rate is estimated to have held at 4.7%, while wages are anticipated to have climbed 0.3%. Other readings on the labor market include the ADP National Employment Report for March -- the unofficial reading on private payrolls ahead of the official U.S. jobs report on Wednesday, and weekly jobless claims at their regular time on Thursday.