Two big banks, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, post earnings Friday.
Earlier Tuesday, the National Federation of Independent Business reported that business owners became increasingly pessimistic during September due to the weak hiring environment and poor sales. Nonetheless, the number of owners who expect business conditions to improve in six months gained 4 percentage points. Those believing it's a good time to expand rose 3 percentage points.
Among other stocks making big moves, Edwards Lifesciences dropped $21.05 to $86.31 after the company reported revenue that fell well short of analyst's forecasts. Sales of its Sapien heart valves were weaker than the company had expected.
Yum Brands, which owns the Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC chains, rose 70 cents to $67.64. The company, which also reports results after the closing bell, has predicted a return to rapid growth in its China operations in the second half of the year.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.72 percent from 1.74 percent late Friday. U.S. government bond trading was closed Monday for the Columbus Day holiday.
European markets were mixed. Benchmark indexes edged down 0.3 percent in both Germany and Britain. France's stock market index rose 0.1 percent.