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US stock futures trim gains after retail sales disappoint

U.S. stock-index futures moderated their advance on Tuesday as small business confidence hit a post-recession high but retail sales data came in weaker than expected.

Retail sales rose 0.1 percent in April, versus an estimate of 0.4 percent growth.

"I'm not surprised there; the worst performing sector is the consumer," said Nick Raich, CEO at the Earnings Scout.

Earlier Tuesday, the National Federation of Independent Business reported that small business sentiment hit its highest levels in 6-1/2 years in April, with seven of 10 index components advancing.

The sentiment gauge "showed improvement back to pre-recession levels," said Raich, who noted that the current earnings season yielded a "resumption of positive improvement with earnings expectations, not just for the small companies, but big companies, or S&P 500 companies, which suggest earnings growth will re-accelerate in the second quarter."

Global sentiment has eased back into "risk-on" mode after some selling in momentum stocks last week. Technology shares surged in the U.S. on Monday and M&A (merger and acquisition) activity helped brighten Wall Street's view of the economy.

Read MoreA 'new normal' in China: Here's what it means

Thomson Reuters data show 69.2 percent of U.S. companies have beaten first quarter earnings estimates, while 52.9 percent have reported revenues above analyst expectations. Companies posting numbers early on Tuesday include EnCana and Wix.com.

Investors will also focus on Pfizer's ongoing attempts to acquire U.K. rival AstraZeneca, with Pfizer boss Ian Read appearing before a U.K. business select committee alongside AstraZeneca's Pascal Soriot on Tuesday. After the U.S. closing bell on Monday, Pfizer was reported to be planning to raise its bid, and the company's head of research has said the acquisition would not hinder drug research.

Also on Monday evening, AT&T was reported to be in negotiations to buy DirecTV in a telecoms megamerger worth $50 billion.

Google shares will also be worth a watch, after Europe's top court ruled on Tuesday that users could ask the tech giant to delete sensitive information from its Internet search results.

Outside of the U.S., concerns regarding a breakup of Ukraine remain on the agenda. Pro-Russian separatists in the eastern city of Donetsk have formally asked the Kremlin to annex the region like it did with Crimea.This follows ad hoc referendums on independence in the city.

Read MoreThe city that may be Ukraine's line in the sand




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