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Wall Street kicks off earnings season with JPMorgan Chase

U.S. stock-index futures ticked higher on Tuesday as it absorbed fourth-quarter earnings from JPMorgan Chase (JPM), the first of the major investment banks to report.

A gauge of U.S. consumer spending rose more than expected in December, while Import prices were unchanged versus a 0.3 percent estimate.

JPMorgan's net income fell to $5.28 billion, or $1.30 per share, in the fourth quarter from $5.69 billion, or $1.39 per share in the same quarter of 2012, JPMorgan said on Tuesday. Excluding items, the company reported earnings of $1.40 a share.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected the Dow component to post earnings per share of $1.35 a share on revenue of $23.69 billion.

(Read more: Madoff penalties hit JPMorgan Chase profit)

Wells Fargo reported an 11 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit, with shares of the nation's biggest mortgage lender slipping in pre-market trade.

Overall, fourth quarter earnings for the S&P 500 are expected to rise about 7 percent. Financials are seen reporting the biggest profit increases — a 21 percent jump.

(Read more: Traders eye retail sales data, earnings as volatility jumps)

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Traders continue to watch Federal Reserve speakers for clues as to the rate at which bond-purchasing tapering will proceed. With that in mind, speeches by Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser at 12:45 p.m. and Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher at 1:20 p.m. will attract interest.

In stock news, Google reported late on Monday that it was buying home automation company Nest Labs for $3.2 billion. Frankfurt-listed Google stock traded around 0.9 percent lower early on Tuesday.

In addition, Time Warner Cable has rejected $61.3 billion buyout bid by Charter Communications as "grossly inadequate."

(Read more: Time Warner Cable rejects Charter's $61B bid)

—By CNBC's Katy Barnato

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