The Department of Commerce said building starts rose in February, rising sharply compared to a year ago, adding to the data showing the housing market making a comeback.
In Cyprus members of Parliament considered a bill that would raise less than the $5.8 billion required for the country to qualify for a $13 billion European Commission bailout. The uncertainty over what comes next hung over markets in Europe Tuesday.
By close of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average added 3.76 points or 0.03 percent to 14,455.82.
The Nasdaq shed 8.50 points or 0.26 percent to 3,229.10.
The Standard and Poor's 500 dropped 3.76 points or 0.24 percent to 1,548.34.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,299 stocks advanced and 1,741 declined on a volume of 3.7 billion shares traded.
Ten-year U.S. treasury bonds rose 15/32 to yield 1.908 percent.
Against the dollar, the euro was at $1.287 from Monday's $1.2956. Against the yen, the dollar was lower at 95.08 yen from 95.21 yen.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 rose 2.03 percent, adding 247.60 points to 12,468.23.
In London, the FTSE 100 index lost 0.26 percent, 16.60 points, to 6,441.32.