The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 70.68 points to 12,754.34, with 21 of its 30 components in negative territory, with the declines led by DuPont Co. , off 3.7% after the chemicals company forecast weakness in the U.S. construction and automotive markets to dent growth.
Two other Dow components -- McDonald's Corp. and AT&T Inc. reported results before Tuesday's bell.
McDonald's said first-quarter profit climbed 24%, but same-store sales in March were "slightly negative."
Shares of the fast-food chain declined 0.4%. .
The S&P 500 declined 7.29 points to 1,380.88, with information technology and materials both down 1.5%, and consumer discretionary off 1.1%.
The energy sector's fall was limited, recently off 0.2%, as crude-oil futures added 52 cents to $118 a barrel, after earlier hitting a new high of $118.47. .
The surge in fuel costs had UAL Corp. reporting widening losses for the first quarter, with the Chicago-based parent of United Airlines joining JetBlue Airways Corp. in pointing to escalating energy costs for wiping out profit. .
The technology-laden Nasdaq Composite shed 15.96 points to 2,392.08.94, with shares of Texas Instruments among those weighing, its stock down 5.7%, retreating after the chipmaker offered a second-quarter outlook lagging expectations late Monday.
Yahoo Inc. gained 0.9% ahead of its earnings report after the close.
Volume on the New York Stock Exchange hit 1.3 billion shares, with declining stocks outpacing those on the rise by a more than 2-to-1 count. On the Nasdaq, 610 million shares exchanged hands, with decliners also running ahead of advancing stocks, also more than 2 to 1.
The National Association of Realtors reported the U.S. housing market weakened slightly in March, with the trade group's chief economist calling existing-home sales "stable yet soft." .
Wall Street ended narrowly mixed on Monday, with the Dow industrials losing 24 points and the S&P 500 down 2 points as oil prices hit new record highs and Bank of America reported a 77% profit decline. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 5 points.
By Kate Gibson