U.S. stocks and exchange traded funds (ETFs) fluctuated making modest moves and then dabbling in the red on better-than-expected earnings by Citigroup (C) and a better-than-expected consumer confidence report.

Citi, considered to be one of the most troubled banks, posted a quarterly loss of $1 billion and actually turned a profit of $1.6 billion before paying dividends, outperforming analysts’ expectations. This translated to a loss of $0.18/share compared to analysts’ forecast of a loss of $0.32/share.  Despite this outperformance, the bank was down 8% in intraday trading on concerns that headwinds in credit markets are persisting, states Jeff Kearns of Bloomberg.

The Financial Select SPDR (XLF), was down about 1% in morning trading; C is 1.8%

To add icing to the earnings cake, General Electric (GE) beat Wall Street’s expectations as well.  This was much-needed for a firm that has seem nothing but gloom, down 21.9% year to date.  GE announced earnings from continuing operations of $0.26/share as compared to analysts’ expectations of $0.21/share.

First-quarter earnings for the conglomerate were still down about 36% on waning sales and sharply lower profits from its ailing finance arm. This good news gave a little boost to the industrials, the Vanguard Industrials ETF (VIS) gained about 0.2% in intraday trading, despite being down 9.2% for the year. GE is 15.6% of the fund.

To keep the better-than-expected ball rolling, Google (GOOG) was yet another company to beat analysts’ expectations.  The search engine giant reported net income of $5.16/share as compared to analysts’ forecasts of $4.93/share. Despite this outperformance, many are still unsure of Google’s outlook for the current period and immediate future.  The company is feeling the impact of the global recession posting only moderate revenue growth and was able to outperform by keeping its costs down, states John Letzing and Dan Gallagher of Market Watch.

Other earnings reports were not as positive.  Toymaker Mattel (MAT) said weak overseas sales and cautious retail orders led to wider first quarter losses than expected.  The company reported losses of $0.14/share as compared to expectations of a loss of $0.13/share.  Despite this, the stock gained about 11% in intraday trading.