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IBM reported earnings after the closing bell on Monday that missed on revenue, which fell for the 13th consecutive quarter—news that could weigh on investor sentiment ahead of Apple earnings later on Tuesday. IBM shares fell about 6 percent in pre-market trade and stock futures for the blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average were down about 70 points while Nasdaq futures turned lower. S&P 500 futures were lower by about 4 points.
Travelers reported adjusted profit of $2.52 per share, beating estimates of $2.12, though revenue was slightly below forecasts. The insurers' bottom line was helped by a significant drop in catastrophe losses.
United Technologies earned $1.73 per share for the second quarter, 2 cents above estimates, with revenue shy of forecasts. The industrial conglomerate also cut its full-year forecast, in part to reflect the just-announced sale of its Sikorsky Aircraft unit to Lockheed Martin.
Verizon came in 3 cents above estimates with second quarter profit of $1.04 per share, but revenue was below Street consensus. Wireless revenue was up 5.3 percent compared to a year earlier, while FiOS revenue increased by 10 percent.
Volatility in commodity markets is also likely to get some attention, with U.S. oil prices slipping back below the $50-a-barrel mark on the back of a stronger dollar and worries about a supply glut.
Gold prices held a touch lower near $1,106 an ounce after falling to five-year lows the previous session.
U.S. stocks closed mildly higher on Monday, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq hitting another record high.
"The bull market in the U.S. looks less appealing than in Europe right now," Alex Friedman, CEO at asset manager GAM Holding, told CNBC on Tuesday. "As an overall market, it's range-bound."
Apple meanwhile is expected to post its earnings after the closing bell.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters are on average looking for sales growth of 32 percent to $49.3 billion. Earnings per share is seen increasing to $1.79 from $1.28 a year earlier.
In Europe, regional stock markets gave up early gains and moved into negative territory and Asian shares ended the day higher.
Japan's Toshiba Corp was in focus after the company's chief executive said he was stepping down on Tuesday after an independent investigation found he had been aware that the firm had inflated its profits for a number of years.
Toshiba shares, which have fallen more than 20 percent since the firm unveiled accounting irregularities in April, soared 6 percent in Tokyo.
—CNBC's Peter Schacknow contributed to this report.