Futures Fall Ahead of Fed, Goldman 


U.S. stock index futures edged lower ahead of the open Tuesday as the Federal Reserve prepared to start its two-day policy meeting and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein is scheduled to appear before Congress.

Stocks ended largely flat in the previous session, but any insight into the Fed's strategy for interest rates could shift momentum throughout the week.

"I tend to think that they will keep a relatively easy monetary stance," Mark Fuchs, CEO of Fuchs Capital Partners, told CNBC Tuesday.

"Given that jobs are a major top of mind for the Fed, I don't see them actually raising rates any time certainly for this year," Fuchs added.

Ford Motor added to early pressure after the automaker posted earnings of 46 cents a share. The earnings beat estimates but shares fell about 2 percent in premarket trading as investors were disappointed in Ford's sales numbers.

Other earnings, though, helped stem the damage.

Dow component DuPont reported that quarterly profit doubled, sending its shares up 2.2 percent premarket, while 3M also topped expectations and saw its shares rise 3.5 percent.

European stocks were lower, ending a two-session rally, as banking stocks declined. Asian stocks ended lower with the Shanghai Composite Index finding its lowest close in six-and-a-half months.

The Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations will grill Goldman employees on the firm's housing market-related investments. The star witnesses will be Blankfein and trader Fabrice Tourre, who's at the center of the Securities and Exchange Commission's case against Goldman.

Meanwhile, the Fed will kick off its rate-setting meeting with the latest decision and statement due Wednesday afternoon. Before the meeting, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and President Barack Obama are both scheduled to speak at the initial meeting of the President's bipartisan fiscal commission. The President leads with remarks at 9:45 am New York time.

Also in Washington, negotiations will undoubtedly be taking place behind closed doors, after a Senate vote to begin debate on the proposed financial regulation reform bill failed by three votes. 

The most prominent of Monday's after-the-bell reports came from Texas Instruments , which reported quarterly profit of 52 cents per share, beating estimates by one cent, and gave a current quarter outlook that topped Street consensus. Its shares dipped 0.5 percent premarket.

In other news, the S&P/Case-Shiller reading of home prices will be out at 9 am. At 10 am, the Conference Board will release its monthly consumer confidence index, with economists looking for an increase to 54.0 this month from 52.5 last month.