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Futures Rise; Economic Data in Focus

Tuesday, 31 Jul 2012 | 9:04 AM ET

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Tuesday, as investors await announcements later this week from the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank and scrutinize a handful of U.S. economic reports.

Market participants will look for hints of further stimulus measures to spur growth and are hoping the ECB will start buying Italian and Spanish bonds to keep yields down. The ECB's policy decision is due on Thursday, while the Federal Reserve's policy decision is out on Wednesday afternoon. Investors will be looking for hints that the Fed will undertake additional steps to stimulate economic growth. (Read More: Wall Street Now Almost Certain Fed and ECB Will Act).

“I think what quantitative easing would do near-term would kind of juice the market and you’d get a short-term pop,” Jim McCaughan, CEO of Principal Global Investors, told CNBCon Tuesday.

“Having said that, I think it would be a policy mistake because the last time we had quantitative easing it pushed the dollar down and pushed commodity prices up,” he continued. “A more expensive oil price is the last thing the economy needs. QE could perversely slow the job creation and the economy.”

A three-day rally in European sharescame to an end today, dented by concerns that markets have overplayed the chances the ECB will taking action to back up its pledge to support the euro.

On the economic front, June personal incomerose 0.5 percent after a 0.3 percent increase in May and consumer spending was unchanged after being down 0.1 percent the month before. The Street was expecting personal income to rise 0.2 percent and spending to rise 0.1 percent.

Also, the second-quarter employment cost index increased 0.5 percent after a 0.4 percent rise in the first quarter.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 0.9 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, topping expectations for a 0.5 percent increase. In a non-seasonally adjusted basis, prices jumped 2.2 percent.

Due out later in the morning are the Chicago PMI and consumer confidence.

Turning to earnings, Dow component Pfizer posted second-quarter earningsof $0.54 per share on revenue of $15.1 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters forecast earnings per share of $0.54 on revenue of $14.9 billion.

Drug distributor AmerisourceBergen is sharply higher in pre-market trading after it won an $18.5 billion drug contract from pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts .

Aetna reported better than expected second-quarter earnings while boosting its 2012 outlook.

Meanwhile, Humana reported better than expected second-quarter earnings but lowered its 2012 outlook on costs associated with both new and existing Medicare patients.

Upscale leather goods maker Coach is down in pre-market trading after it reported lower-than-expected fourth-quarter sales, hurt by promotion deals it offered North American shoppers.

Anheuser-Busch InBev , the world's largest brewer, fell short of second-quarter earnings expectations, selling less beer and spending more on distribution and marketing new U.S. brands.

Coming Up This Week:

TUESDAY: Chicago PMI, farm prices; Earnings from Electronic Arts, Take Two, DreamWorks

WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps, ADP employment report, PMI manufacturing report, ISM mfg index, construction spending, oil inventories, auto sales, FOMC mtg announcement; Earnings from Comcast, Dollar Thrifty, Marathon Oil, MasterCard, Time Warner, Green Mountain Coffee, Hartford Financial, MetLife, Prudential Financial, Yelp

THURSDAY: Jobless claims, factory orders, chain-store sales; Earnings from GM, Sony, Clorox, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Time Warner Cable, AIG, Kraft, Activision Blizzard, LinkedIn, Sunoco, Opentable, Zipcar

FRIDAY: Employment situation, ISM non-mfg index; Earnings from P&G, Toyota, Beazer Homes, NYSE Euronext, Berkshire Hathaway