US Markets

Wall Street to focus on key earnings, pharma stocks


U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a steady to slightly higher open on Tuesday, ahead of first quarter-earnings early in the day from Dow components McDonald's, Travelers and United Technologies.

McDonald's' shares turned higher after an initial fall in premarket trading after the fast food chain reported a lower quarterly profit.

Comcast (the owner of NBCUniversal, CNBC's parent company) also posted first-quarter results before Wall Street opens, along with Bank of New York Mellon, Harley-Davidson, Lockheed Martin and Xerox.

Overall, 148 (around a third of the index's market capitalization) and 11 Dow components are scheduled to have reported earnings by the end of this week.

Pharmaceutical stocks will likely attract interest on Tuesday, as the industry appeared swept up in a wave of mergers and acquisitions.

GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis announced a $16 billion commercial tie-up on Tuesday, and separately, Novartis said it would sell its animal health division for around $5.4 billion to the U.S.'s Eli Lilly. This followed a merger bid by bio tech firm Valeant for Botox-maker Allergan late on Monday, and came as rumors swirled of a $101 billion bid for AstraZenca by Pfizer.

(Read more: Pharma M&A is back – can it cure the sector's ills?)

Other stocks to watch include Netflix, which announced better-than-expected earnings late on Monday, sending its stock nearly 6 percent higher in after-hours trade.

Tuesday's non-corporate data focus will be on the housing market, with a third consecutive monthly drop in existing home sales seen in March. The FHFA house price index is also due, along with the Richmond Federal Reserve manufacturing index.