Updated from 9:43 a.m. EDT

Stocks on Wall Street were off their morning lows and trading near the baseline Tuesday, as traders picked through a large, lackluster pile of

corporate earnings

statements.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was down 46 points at 9218, and the

S&P 500

gave back 6.5 points to 978. The

Nasdaq

was down 14 points at 1755.

On Monday, the major indices rallied sharply as credit markets opened up somewhat and

Federal Reserve

Chairman Ben Bernanke said an

economic stimulus package

may be a good idea.

After the close of that session, credit card firm

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

reported earnings that fell year over year but still beat analysts' expectations.

Elsewhere in the financials, business wasn't looking as good. Regional banks

Fifth Third

(FITB) - Get Report

,

National City

(NCC)

and

KeyCorp

(KEY) - Get Report

all announced losses stemming from bad loans. National City said it plans to cut 4,000 jobs.

US Bancorp

(USB) - Get Report

said its income fell from a year ago.

Large bank

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

was also in for a hard time following a Goldman Sachs analyst statement that said the firm may not report a profit for the next 12 months and reiterated a sell rating on the stock.

Tuesday also marked the deadline for settlement of $400 billion worth of credit default swaps on bankrupt brokerage

Lehman Brothers'

debt.

The

Federal Reserve

announced that it would buy commercial paper from money-market mutual funds in another effort to massage cramped credit markets. Abroad, Canada's central bank lowered its target interest rate 25 basis points to 2.25%, and France announced plans for a $14 billion capital injection into its largest banks.

The cost of borrowing among big banks was once again declining, as three-month dollar Libor declined to 3.83% from 4.06%. The overnight rate slipped to 1.28% from 1.51%.

Many other companies' quarterly results were discouraging.

Texas Instruments

(TXN) - Get Report

said it foresaw weak sales in the next six months and said it plans to sell its cell-phone chip business.

Equipment manufacturer

Caterpillar

(CAT) - Get Report

reported a decline in profit as the cost of raw materials rose. Chemical firm

DuPont

(DD) - Get Report

reported third-quarter earnings that fell from a year earlier because of hurricane-related charges.

Not all was dismal among industrial firms, however. Conglomerate

3M

(MMM) - Get Report

announced improved earnings thanks to strong international sales. Defense company

Lockheed Martin

(LMT) - Get Report

also saw earnings improvement and raised its full-year expectations.

Drugmakers

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

and

Biogen Idec

(BIIB) - Get Report

also reported. Biogen beat estimates, and Pfizer posted substantial earnings gains.

Schering-Plough

(SGP)

said its profit declined but revenue increased 63%.

As for the automakers,

The Wall Street Journal

reported that

Chrysler

might partner with

Nissan

(NSANY)

and

Renault

for purposes of manufacturing and development. The

Journal

said that Chrysler would still prefer to merge with

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

.

Ford

(F) - Get Report

was also looking troubled after billionaire investor

Kirk Kerkorian

, whose

Tracinda Corp.

is the largest Ford shareholder barring Ford family members, sold about $17.7 million of its stake in the company to focus on opportunities in gaming, hospitality and oil and gas.

Looking at commodities, crude oil was declining $2.11 to $72.14 a barrel, and gold was down $12.30 to $777.70 an ounce.

Longer-dated U.S. Treasury securities were rising in price. The 10-year was up 8/32 to yield 3.81%, and the 30-year was gaining 6/32, yielding 4.24%. The dollar was gaining on the euro and pound but shrinking vs. the yen.

Overseas, European exchanges such as the FTSE in London and the DAX in Frankfurt were trading lower. As for Asian markets, Japan's Nikkei closed on the upside, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng finished with losses.