NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Although two of three major indices closed lower on Tuesday, all three pared losses into the close, and market watchers say that's a sign of resilience. "What we're seeing -- the action in the market -- is typical of the beginnings of a bull market where you have these dips and people rush in to buy stocks again," says Peter Cardillo, chief market strategist at Avalon Partners. "So it's a good indication that the rally has further to go on the upside." The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 11.79 points, or 0.1%, to 9096.72, and the S&P 500 was off by just 2.56 points, or 0.3%, at 979.62. The Nasdaq gained 7.62 points, or 0.4%, to 1975.51. Stocks have shown resiliency following double-digit gains in recent weeks, with the major indices staging late-day recoveries on what would otherwise be decisively down days. Still, "better-than-expected" results are wearing thin on investors who want to see signs of growth. One glimmer came from the Standard & Poor's/Case Shiller home price index, which rose 0.5% in May from April. It was the first monthly increase in almost three years, beating expectations for an 0.5% drop. Sales are still down 17.1% year over year, although that's less severe than in April. But that data was offset by a report by the Conference Board, which said consumer confidence fell to 46.6 in July, down from 49.3 in June and lower than the expected reading of 49.
"This is to be expected because of the high rate of unemployment, which is still climbing and probably approaching a peak," says Cardillo. "Until we get that consumers, aren't going to go out and be so cheerful." Earnings also offered a mixed picture as BP, Europe's second-largest oil company, said second-quarter earnings fell 53% year over year because of steep declines in oil prices but topped estimates. CEO Tony Hayward said in a statement that energy demand is now stabilizing, but warned, "We see little evidence of any growth in demand and expect the recovery to be long and drawn out." "Demand may be stabilizing but the key point is demand is stabilizing well below previous year levels and it's not really giving any indication that it's going to start growing again," says Darin Newsom, senior technology commodities analyst at DTN. "The underlying fundamentals are still quite bearish and this is weighing on the actual companies themselves, dealing with these bearish underlying fundamentals while the market is trying to rally." The divergence between "reality and market price" is making the market more difficult to read, he says. Click the button below to hear Newsom discuss earnings, where he sees oil going and what to make of the supply and demand equation. Valero Energy ( VLO). , the largest independent oil refiner in the U.S., reported a slightly narrower loss than expected, but said its revenue fell 51% on lower margins and weak demand.
BP gave up 2.6% to $49.99, and Valero dropped 2.3% to $18.33, while crude oil futures gave up $1.15, to settle at $67.23. Meanwhile, U.S. Steel ( X) fell 2.2% to $40.35 after reporting its second consecutive quarterly loss on weak demand for metal; it also forecast a loss for the third quarter as well. In other news, Bank of America ( BAC) plans to cut about 10% of its 6,100 branch network, The Wall Street Journal reported. Shares rose 1.9% to $13.34. Stocks overseas were mostly lower. In Europe, London's FTSE 100 and the DAX in Frankfurt were down about 1.3% and 1.5%, respectively. In Asia, the Nikkei in Japan fell 0.01%, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 1.8%. Longer-dated Treasuries were rising in price, falling in yield. The 10-year was up 9/32 to yield 3.68%, while the 30-year added 1-10/32, yielding 4.54%. -- Reported by Elizabeth Trotta in New York.