U.S. markets broke away from Europe's slump Monday on positive housing market data, but the Dow turned lower in late trading.
The National Association of Realtors, said pending home sales rose 2 percent in January, twice what economists had expected, the index hitting the highest level in 21 months.
In Europe, stocks were broadly lower after Group of 20 finance leaders failed to agree on increasing international aid to Europe.
The lack of support for Europe, where governments are struggling to contain debt in Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal, took the legs out from under stocks, given recent assessments that said Europe would fall into a mild recession in 2012.
By close of trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average, after a brief stint about 13,000, lost 1.44 points or 0.01 percent to 12,981.51.
The DJIA has found its way above 13,000 on several occasions in the past two weeks, but has not closed above that since May 2008.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 1.85 points, or 0.14 percent, to 1,367.59. The Nasdaq composite index rose 2.41 points, or 0.08 percent, to 2,966.16.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,515 stocks advanced and 1,502 declined on a volume of 3.3 billion shares traded.
The benchmark 10-year treasury note rose 14/32 to yield 1.931 percent.
The euro fell to $1.3399 from Friday's $1.3449. Against the yen, the dollar fell to 80.58 yen from 81.20 yen.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index fell 0.14 percent, 13.45 points, to 9,633.93.
In London, the FTSE 100 index lost 0.33 percent, 19.58, to 5,915.55.