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NEW YORK: The S&P 500 wavered between slight gains and losses on Tuesday as a sharp decline in telecom stocks and weak housing starts data overshadowed better-than-expected earnings from Walmart and Home Depot.

AT&T Inc shed 5%, the top drag on the benchmark S&P 500, as it extended declines from Monday, when the telecoms firm said it would cut its dividend payout ratio as a result of its $43 billion media asset deal with Discovery Inc.

T-Mobile and Verizon Communications also dropped 2.6% and 1.6%.

The three main indexes opened higher after Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer, raised its full-year earnings forecast and Home Depot reported quarterly same-store sales above estimates.

Minutes from the Fed’s April policy meeting will be parsed on Wednesday for the central bank’s view of the economy.

At 11:32 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 70.79 points, or 0.21%, at 34,257.00 and the S&P 500 was down 1.51 points, or 0.04%, at 4,161.78. The Nasdaq Composite was up 77.10 points, or 0.58%, at 13,456.15.

The energy index dropped 1.6%, tracking weakness in oil prices.

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