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Futures Off Lows on Earnings Strength

U.S. stock index futures indicated a lower open for Wall Street Tuesday, with stock markets in Asia and Europe knocked down by news of monetary tightening in China.

Some positive earnings news from two Dow components helped take the sting out of the market's sour mood. Futures were still negative but off their morning lows.

DuPont reported a 10 percent rise in profit that beat analyst estimates, sending its shares nearly 1 percent higher in premarket trading. Travelers also surprised to the upside with a profit of $2.36 per share, giving its shares a 4 percent pop.

Also on the bluechips, Verizon reported a 54-cent per share profit that was in line with estimates. Traders greeted the numbers unenthusiastically, though, sending shares down 1.4 percent premarket. One problem for the company was that it reported a net loss due to a sizeable charge for worker layoffs.

And Johnson & Johnson shares edged lower after the company reported earnings that appeared to hit estimates, but provided a tepid full-year outlook.

Apple , Texas Instruments , and Amgen reported after the bell Monday.

Apple beat estimates with both earnings and revenues, but the stock was volatile after-hours as its iPhone sales did not beat the most optimistic of estimates. Shares were up 1.8 percent premarket.

Texas Instruments also beat estimates, while biotech giant Amgen fell short.

Also on the earnings calendar before the bell: Delta Air Lines, EMC, Corning, McGraw-Hill, Regions Financial, Sherwin-Williams, and U.S. Steel.

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Yahoo is the most prominent company on the schedule to release quarterly numbers after the closing bell.

Elsewhere in the market, Dynavax Technologies said an early-stage trial for its experirmental treatment for chronic hepatitis C was safe and induced anti-viral activity. The news set Dynavax shares up 32 percent premarket.

The Federal Reserve's policy-making Open Market Committee begins a two-day meeting today, with its statement coming tomorrow afternoon at approximately 2:15 pm New York time. Interest rates are unlikely to change, but investors are expecting to hear more details about removing the Fed's accommodative policies.

President Obama will announce a three-year freeze on discretionary, "non-security" spending, according to various reports. That announcement is likely to come during the President's State of the Union address Wednesday night.

Among the economic reports scheduled for today: the monthly S&P/Case-Shiller report on home prices is out at 9 am New York time, expected to show a 5.3 percent drop in home prices year-over-year in the country's 20 largest housing markets.

The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence index will be issued at 10 am New York time, with consensus forecasts calling for a January increase to 54.0 from December's 52.9 reading.

The Treasury will auction $44 billion in 2-year notes today, with results available shortly after 1 pm New York time.

Plenty of automotive news this morning: various reports say Ford plans to build the next version of its Explorer SUV at its Chicago assembly plant, adding 1,200 jobs.

General Motors is investing $246 million in electric motor technology, setting up a factory backed by government funding.

Winterizing Your Portfolio - A CNBC Special Report
Winterizing Your Portfolio - A CNBC Special Report

And Genii Capital has withdrawn from the bidding for GM's Saab unit, leaving Spyker Cars as the only remaining bidder.

Finally, Toyota says its sales this year should rise 6 percent to 8.27 million vehicles.

And two more positive economic projections for 2010: the National Retail Federation says retail sales should rise 2.5 percent for the year, while semiconductor industry tracker IDC predicts a 15.1 percent increase in microprocessor sales.

- Written by Peter Schacknow, Senior Producer, CNBC Breaking News Desk.

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