NEW YORK, March 19 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks closed mixed in volatile trading on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average index managing to close in positive territory amid uncertainties in Cyprus after its parliament rejected a proposed tax on bank deposits.
The blue-chip index edged up 3.76 points, or 0.03 percent, to 14,455.82. The broader Standard & Poor's 500-stock Index shed 3.76 points, or 0.24 percent, to 1,548.34. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index slid 8.49 points, or 0.26 percent, to 3,229.10.
The main stock indices opened higher, bouncing back from a two- session drop, as U.S. building permits in February came in better than expected and investors' fears over the Cyprus crisis eased.
However, the market began to plunge sharply around midday trading, hit by concerns about a possible default for Cyprus.
The stocks rebounded gradually in the afternoon trading despite Cypriot lawmakers rejected the plan to levy on bank deposits which was the terms of a eurozone bailout deal, as investors took the dip as buying opportunities.
On the economic front, U.S. privately-owned housing starts in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 917,000, which was 0.8 percent above the revised January estimate of 910, 000 and 27.7 percent above the year-ago level, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, building permits, an indication of future demand, rose 4.6 percent from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 946,000 in February, the Commerce Department added.
Shares of homebuilders reacted positively to the climbing building permits which pointed to a sustained recovery in the real estate market, with shares of KB Home and Toll Brothers gaining 2. 99 percent and 1.14 percent respectively.
Citigroup shares slipped 0.97 percent to 45.79 U.S. dollars, one day after the bank giant announced it had agreed, subject to court approval, to settle a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of investors who purchased Citigroup debt and preferred stock during the period of May 11, 2006, through Nov. 28, 2008.
Shares of Lululemon Athletica dipped 2.76 percent to 64.08 dollars after the apparel producer announced that some of its black luon pants fell short of expected quality standards and it had pulled them from its floors and website.
The market has been also eyeing the ongoing Federal Open Market Committee meeting. In light of the Cyprus crisis and a volatile global recovery, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is expected to continue to offer his support for massive asset purchases.