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Futures Get Pressure From Apple, Citigroup

U.S. stocks were set to open flat to negative on Tuesday, with Nasdaq futures under pressure from Apple and Citigroup weighing on the other major indices.

Apple announced on Monday that CEO Steve Jobs was taking a medical leave to focus on his health, reviving fears over the long-term future of company. The announcement came when U.S. markets were closed. Shares of Apple lost nearly 5 percent in pre-market trading.

The tech giant was set to report a 50 percent jump in quarterly sales after the bell, according to analysts, as its iPhone and iPad excited holiday shoppers, but Apple may face more pressing questions about the health of its iconic CEO.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect the group to have earned $5.40 per share on sales of $24.4 billion for its fiscal first quarter.

At the same time, Citigroup posted a profit of 4 cents a share that missed on both the bottom and top lines, with revenue off 6 percent from the previous quarter.

Dow futures were slightly in positive territory while the Standard & Poor's 500 was flat and the Nasdaq indicated a drop approaching 1 percent at the opening bell.

Also on Tuesday, Comerica said it was buying regional banking company Sterling Bancshares in a stock deal worth about $1.03 billion, a move that will give the Dallas bank an even bigger stake in the Texas market.

In other earnings news, TD Ameritrade fell in pre-market trading despite reporting quarterly profit that rose 6 percent, in line with expectations, as trading activity picked up. The company's shares have soared 29 percent since the end of September, however. TD Ameritrade earned $145.0 million, or 25 cents a share in the fiscal first quarter, up from $136.2 million, or 23 cents, a year earlier.

Also, Delta Air Linesreported a profit of 19 cents a share that was below Wall Street estimates, sending shares lower by 3.5 percent premarket.

Investors in technology stocks will also prepare to digest IBM earnings after the bell Tuesday.

Analysts expect the company to report fourth-quarter earnings of 4.08 per share and revenues of $28.3 billion after the bell.

Goldman Sachs will also be in focus after it said it will limit its private placement of shares of social networking site Facebookto investors outside the United States.

And Boeing delayed its first delivery of the 787 Dreamlinerto the third quarter from the first quarter after an electrical fire on a test flight in November.

At 10 a.m., the National Association of Home Builders will release its housing market index. Economists polled by Briefing.com expect the reading to remain flat at 16 for January.

European shares rose on Tuesday, supported by resource-related stocks, but fading hopes that euro zone finance ministers will reach an agreement to increase the region's rescue fund limited gains.

On the Calendar Next Week:

TUESDAY: Treasury international capital, housing market index, Mattel-Bratz Trial; earnings after-the-bell from Apple, IBM.
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage applications, housing starts, Obama hosts Chinese President Hu; earnings before-the-bell from Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo; earnings after-the-bell from eBay.
THURSDAY: Weekly jobless claims, existing home sales, leading indicators, Philadelphia Fed survey, oil inventories; earnings before-the-bell from Morgan Stanley, Fifth Third, Huntington Bank, Southwest Airlines, United Health, Union Pacific; earnings after-the-bell from Advanced Micro, Capital One.
FRIDAY: Dodd-Frank rulemaking deadline; earnings before-the-bell from Bank of America, GE, BB&T, Schlumberger and Sun Trust.

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