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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012.Seth Wenig/The Associated Press

U.S. stocks fell on Tuesday, marking the second straight decline after the U.S. benchmark index ended last week at a five-year high following a partial resolution to the so-called "fiscal cliff."

The S&P 500 closed at 1457.15, down 4.74 points or 0.3 per cent. The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average closed at 13,328.85, down 55.44 points or 0.4 per cent. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 12,504.81, up 5.26 points or close to zero per cent, after recovering nearly 50 points from its low.

The moves preceded the official start of the fourth-quarter earnings season, with Alcoa Inc. reporting its results after markets closed.

The aluminum producer reported net earnings of $242-million (U.S.) or 21 cents a share, up from a loss of 18 cents a share last year. However, after excluding special items, earnings were just 6 cents a share, matching estimates from analysts. Sales fell slightly, to $5.9-billion. The shares rose 1 per cent in after hours trading.

Monsanto Co. rose 2.7 per cent after reporting its fiscal first quarter results, beating estimates with earnings of $339-million or 63 cents a share. It also raised its full-year profit forecast.

Among key commodities, crude oil fell to $93.15 a barrel, down 4 cents. Gold rose to $1,662.20 an ounce, up $15.90.

Barrick Gold Corp. fell 1.3 per cent after it ended talks to sell its African unit to China National Gold because the two companies couldn't agree on a value. The sale had been projected to bring in $2.5-billion and help offset Barrick's rising production costs.

However, the rising price of gold drove Goldcorp Inc. up 3.2 per cent.