U.S. stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Wall Street on Tuesday, with Wall Street poised for a pause a day after the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at another record high.
Both the Dow and the S&P 500 have hit record heights, the latter at the end of October, as the Federal Reserve held off on reducing its $85 billion in monthly asset purchases, also known as quantitative easing.
In China, government officials ended a four-day gathering held to plan economic reforms, saying the would let markets take on a larger part in deciding where resources go.
Attention remains firmly on the Federal Reserve on Tuesday too with key comments expected from Fed presidents Dennis Lockhart and Narayana Kocherlakota when they speak later today.
Richard Fisher, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, told CNBC on Tuesday that the Fed's stimulus program could not continue forever.
"We've changed and impacted the markets because of our intervention and I understand there's sensitivity, but markets should also bear in mind that this program cannot goon forever," he said.
"The balance sheet is $4 trillion and there are limits to what the Federal Reserve can do," Fisher, who is in Melbourne speaking at an Economic Development for Australia function, added.
In order to gauge what direction the Fed will take in future, investors will be closely watching the testimony of Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen on Thursday during her confirmation hearing to take over from Ben Bernanke before the Senate Banking Committee.
Yellen has been nominated to replace Bernanke when his term expires in January, and while she is expected to be confirmed, traders will fix on her comments to see where she stands on monetary policy and how she views the economy.
Shares of News Corp. fell in pre-market trading after the publisher of the Wall Street Journal reported less-than-expected revenue.
In global markets, European equities were flat in morning trade on Tuesday as a number of companies expressed caution on the economy as they released their latest earnings updates.
Telco giant Vodafone reported a 4.1 percent drop in core profit in the first half of 2013, from last year, though it confirmed its full year guidance. It said emerging markets had delivered strong results but the environment in Europe remained "challenging." It said it would spend around £7 billion to improve its existing 3G network in Europe.
Companies reporting before the bell included Dish Network, with its shares climbing in pre-market trade after the company posted quarterly results that beat estimates as it added far more pay-TV subscribers than anticipated.