Futures were higher Tuesday, boosted by better-than-expected manufacturing data in Germany and China, and ahead of a handful of reprots in the U.S.
Stocks jumped at the open in the previous session, but the rally faded throughout the day as traders were hesitant to fully jump in without any proper market conviction.
While readings on China's factory sector and German business activity pointed to slowing growth, the slowdown wasn't as harsh as some had feared.
At the end of the week, all eyes will be on Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke as he makes his widely-anticipated speech at the Fed's annual Jackson Hole, Wyoming symposium. Investors will watch for any signs of a possible round of asset purchases (also known as quantitative easing) which will likely help bolster the stock market.
Reports overnight suggested Bernanke will discuss ways in which the central bank could tweak its balance sheet as a means to put further pressure on medium- and long-term interest rates in order to keep them at their current historically low level. These could be implemented in September and October at coming Fed meetings, Reuters reported.
Goldman Sachs slipped after CEO Lloyd Blankfein confirmed he had hired Reid Weingarten, a high-profile Washington defense attorney. Investigations continue of Goldman and its role during the financial crisis.
Meanwhile, UBS said it plans to cut 3,500 jobs—almost half of them from its investment bank—in an annual cost-cutting move.
Among techs, Microsoft gained after the firm announced it will develop and market cloud-computing products in China with China Standard Software.
On the earnings front, Heinz slipped even after the ketchup maker beat earnings expectations, helped by growth in emerging markets.
Meanwhile, Medtronic gained after the medical device maker posted earnings that matched analyst expectations.
PharMerica shares skyrocketed almost 40 percent after rival Omnicare announced it may acquire the pharmacy services company.
On the economic front, new home sales for July is expected at 10 am ET. Analysts forecast a 0.6 percent drop from June levels to an annual rate of 310,000 units, according to briefing.com.
The government is scheduled to auction $35 billion in 2-year notes at 1pm ET.
London Brent crude rose toward $109 a barrel, while U.S. light, sweet crude was up more than $1 as fighting in Libya continued and in anticipation of a fall in U.S. crude stockpiles.
Coming Up This Week:
TUESDAY: New home sales, Richmond Fed Business Activity Survey, 2-Yr Note Auction
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps, durable goods orders, oil inventories, 5-yr note auction; Earnings from Toll Brothers, Applied Materials, TiVo
THURSDAY: Weekly jobless claims, 7-yr note auction, Medtronic shareholders mtg, USDA food prices outlook; Earnings from Hormel, Pandora
FRIDAY: GDP, corproate profits, consumer sentiment, Bernanke speaks, short-sale bans expire; Earnings from Tiffany
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