U.S. stock-index futures were little changed on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 not far from its all-time high, amid lingering concerns about China's economy and as the ongoing crisis in Ukraine curbed enthusiasm for riskier assets.
Worse-than-expected export data over the weekend for China — the world's second biggest economy — curbed investor appetite on Monday. But investors saw an opportunity to buy on Tuesday, although the benchmark Shanghai Composite index continued to trade below the key 2,000 level.
The day will be a quiet one for both corporate and economic data in the U.S. on Tuesday. Wholesale inventories for January will be published at 10 a.m. ET, along with JOLTs jobs opening data for the same month.
Shares of American Eagle Outfitters fell 5.7 percent in early New York trading after the teen-apparel retailer projected current-quarter earnings below Wall Street estimates, saying the harsh winter had cut into demand.
J.C. Penney climbed 7.2 percent ahead of the open after Citi upgraded the department-store chain to a "buy" from "neutral" with a price target of $11. In addition, Pacific Crest updated Apple to "outperform" from "sector perform", with a $635 price target.
Frankfurt-listed shares of Boeing traded around 1.2 percent higher in early trade on Tuesday. This followed sharp declines on Monday, after the plane maker said it had found hairline cracks in the wings of roughly 40 787 Dreamliners currently in production.
The search for a Boeing 777-200 plane that vanished during a Malaysia Airlines flight to Beijing on Saturday continues.
(Read more: Lack of MH370 news frustrates distraught relatives)
—By CNBC's Katy Barnato