US Futures Flat as Investors Await Fed News
U.S. futures signaled a flat to slightly higher Wall Street open on Tuesday ahead of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony to the Senate on Wednesday.
Traders also were keeping an eye on J.P. Morgan, which will hold its shareholder meeting in Tampa, Fla. at 10 a.m., and the big emphasis will be on whether investors vote to allow Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon to retain both roles.
(Read More: Splitting Dimon's Roles 'Misguided': Ex-Director)
Shares were little changed in early trading.
"Given the strong rally in global equity markets, a pause for breath is probably not going to cause much of a stir, but we remain cautious on the longevity of the rally due to the continuing dichotomy between economic data and risk asset performance," said Mitul Kotecha, head of global markets research, Asia at Credit Agricole, in a note.
On Tuesday, investors will focus on speeches by Fed vice chairman William Dudley and Saint Louis Fed President Bullard, for early indication as to whether Bernanke's testimony will signify a reduction or end to monetary easing.
(Read More: What the Fed Misses: The Market Isn't the Economy)
Market speculation about the tapering off of quantitative easing has grown since last week, fueled by speeches from Fed hawks John Williams and Charles Plosser, and by comments made by Chicago Fed President Charles Evans in an interview with CNBC on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Fed is due to purchase $2.75-$3.5 billion in 7-10 year Treasury bills on Tuesday and the Treasury will auction $35 billion in 2-year notes.
(Read More: Are Treasurys Falling Out of Favor With China?).
Central bank policy was also in focus in Asian markets on Tuesday, as the Bank of Japan kicked off a two-day policy review. Investors are eager to learn if the Bank will act to reduce volatility in the Japanese government bond market, where yields have spiked to record levels.
(Read More: Volatile Bond Market Puts Bank of Japan in a Spin)
Otherwise, Tuesday will be a quiet day for economic news. Data out in the U.S. includes the NFIB Small Business Optimism survey at 7:30 a.m. ET, and April's import and export data at 8:30 a.m.
Earnings season heats up again on Tuesday, with a raft of retailers due to post first quarter results before the start of U.S. trade, including Dow component Home Depot, Best Buy, Dick's Sporting Goods, Saks, Autozone and TJX Companies. Consumer confidence data has been upbeat of late, so investors will watch to see if this is borne out by positive earnings reports, despite March's unexpectedly cold weather.
As of Monday's close, 93 percent of S&P 500 companies have reported quarterly results, with 67 percent of firms topping earnings expectations and 24 percent missing forecasts, according to data from Reuters. If all remaining companies report earnings in line with estimates, earnings will be up 4.8 percent from last year's first quarter.
Earlier in Tuesday's session, the U.K.'s Vodafone posted its largest ever quarterly fall in key organic service revenue, and held onto the dividend from its U.S. arm rather than returning it to shareholders.The telecoms giant also made no mention of whether it will sell its 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless to U.S. partner Verizon Communications.
(Read More: Vodafone Silent on Verizon, Posts Fall in Revenue)
Apple CEO Tim Cook, meanwhile, appears before a Senate panel at 9:30 a.m. on allegations the tech giant is using tax havens to avoid paying taxes. The subcommittee is also examining Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard, among others.
(Read More: Apple Used Irish Unit to Avoid Billions in Taxes)
—By CNBC's Katy Barnato