U.S. stocks hold at record levels

NEW YORK - U.S. stocks held at record levels on Tuesday as investors digested the most recent economic news and third-quarter company earnings.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index was unchanged at 2,039 as of 11:49 a.m. ET. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 12 points to 17,626. The Nasdaq composite rose one point to 4,652.

President Barack Obama said Tuesday that the U.S. and China have reached an agreement to drop tariffs on a range of technology products including medical devices, global positioning systems, and video game consoles. Obama made the announcement during a meeting with leaders attending an Asia-Pacific economic summit in Beijing.

Most companies in the S&P 500 have now reported their results for the third quarter. Average earnings for companies in the index are projected to have risen 8.9 percent in the period, according to analysts at S&P Capital IQ. At the start of last month earnings were forecast to grow by 6.7 percent.

Home builders had another good day after D.R. Horton reported a 38 percent surge in net orders for the fourth quarter. The company's stock climbed 35 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $23.79. Home builders gained Monday after luxury home builder Toll Brothers reported a jump in revenues.

Stocks will likely move "sideways to up" for the remainder of the year, said James Liu, Global Market Strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds. Earnings "continue to look good," he said.

While earnings remain strong, the market could face volatility as investors fret about the potential timing of the Federal Reserve's first increase in interest rates since 2006. "That's my largest area of concern," Liu said.

France's CAC 40 added 0.2 percent to 4,231 and Germany's DAX dropped 0.1 percent to 9,341. Britain's FTSE 100 was unchanged at 6,608.

Government bond prices were flat. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.36 percent. The dollar rose 0.1 percent to 115.86 yen. The U.S. currency was little changed against the euro at $1.2428.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 34 cents to $77.33 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell $1.25 to close at $77.40 a barrel on Monday.