U.S. stocks returned to positive territory Tuesday morning, but gains faded by midday.
The Department of Commerce said building starts rose in February, rising sharply over a year ago, adding to the data showing the housing market making a comeback.
In Cyprus members of Parliament considered a bill that would raise less than the $5.8 billion required for the country to qualify for a $13 billion European Commission bailout. The uncertainty over what comes next hung over markets in Europe Tuesday.
In early afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 45.21 points, or 0.31 percent, to 14,406.85.
The Nasdaq shed 17.50 points, or 0.54 percent, to 3,220.09.
The Standard and Poor's 500 dropped 8.61 points, or 0.55 percent, to 1,543.49.
Ten-year U.S. treasury bonds rose 13/32 to yield 1.911 percent.
Against the dollar, the euro was at $1.2886 from Monday's $1.2956. Against the yen, the dollar was lower at 94.82 yen from 95.21 yen.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 rose 2.03 percent, adding 247.60 points to 12,468.23.
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