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Wall Street eyes major earnings, ECB action

U.S. stock-index futures signaled a higher open on Tuesday as investors gear up for a big day of major earnings, amid speculation that the European Central Bank will announce a new stimulus package in a matter of days.

A number of major fourth-quarter earnings are due Tuesday, after U.S. markets were closed Monday for the Martin Luther King holiday, including Netflix and IBM.

Morgan Stanley reported an adjusted fourth-quarter profit of 39 cents per share, one cent shy of estimates, with adjusted revenue missing as well. Like rivals, Morgan Stanley's results were impacted by weaker trading revenue.

Johnson & Johnson delivered quarterly earnings that topped analysts' expectations by a penny a share.

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Traders work the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
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Traders work the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Baker Hughes, M&T Bank, Regions Financial, Allegheny Technologies, MGIC Investment, CA, Interactive Brokers, Pinnacle Financial and Woodward also posted earnings.

U.S. equities are also likely to be given a lift amid speculation that the ECB will announce a full-scale bond-buying program when it meets on Thursday.

Tuesday also brings the NAHB Housing Market Index for January at 10:00 am ET, which is expected to rise only fractionally to within touching distance of September's post-crisis high of 59, which is likely to be good news for U.S. builders as housing market conditions appear to remain fairly solid for now.

Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell will be speaking Tuesday in Washington.

The International Monetary Fund trimmed its global growth forecast for 2015-16 in its World Economic Update published on Tuesday, cautioning that the boost from lower crude oil prices would be offset by dimmer economic prospects for China, Russia, the euro area, Japan and oil producers.

The IMF projected the world economy would expand by 3.5 percent this year and 3.7 percent next year, picking up from 3.3 percent in 2014 but lower than its previous estimates.

The fund's forecast comes as the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting kicks off in Davos, Switzerland, bringing together heads of state and around 2,000 business leaders for a four-day event.