"GE's miss has everybody spooked that earnings season may well be a disaster," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Jefferies & Co.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 10.02 points to 12,335.44.
The S&P 500 was off 0.39 points at 1,332.44, while the Nasdaq Composite was down 4.34 points at 2,285.9.
Ahead of the opening bell, U.S. stock futures trimmed their losses after the Commerce Department reported a slight rise in March retail sales, topping the flat expectations of analysts. .
In another sign of trouble in the embattled financial sector, Wachovia Corp. said it would raise $7 billion in capital and slash its dividend after posting a $350 million first-quarter loss. .
"Wachovia's not great news, but it certainly shouldn't catch us by surprise - we know what business they're in," said Hogan.
Shares of Circuit City Stores Inc. rose 40.3% after the consumer-electronics retailer said it is reviewing a take-out offer of at least $6 a share from Blockbuster Inc. . .
On Friday, Wall Street took its largest hit in three weeks after bellwether General Electric Co. surprised investors by reporting a 6% profit drop in the first quarter, and lowered its forecast for the rest of the year.
By Kate Gibson