Futures try for gains as Street eyes oil, earnings

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open Tuesday, as oil tried to hold above $30 a barrel ahead of a major day of earnings and the first Federal Reserve meeting of the year.

U.S. crude held slightly higher above $30.50 a barrel in early morning trade after plunging 5.75 percent Monday. Brent traded more than 1 percent higher, around $30.90 a barrel.

In Europe, stocks turned higher as oil tried for gains.

In a bumper day for blue-chip earnings, 3M, DuPont, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Sprint, Coach, Corning, Freeport-McMoRan, Lockheed Martin, AK Steel and Janus are among those reporting before market open.

Sprint, the No. 4 U.S. wireless carrier, reported a smaller quarterly loss, helped by cost cuts and higher number of subscriber additions. Shares briefly soared 18 percent in pre-market trade following the announcement.

The stock plunged 12.2 percent Monday after Sprint said it is cutting at least 2,500 jobs as part of a $2.5 billion cost savings plan.

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Apple will report after the bell and is expected have earned $3.23 per share in its fiscal first quarter on revenue of $76.6 billion. Capital One, Stryker, VMWare and U.S. Steel will also release earnings after market close.

"As gyrations show, financial markets remain volatile. The good news is that, absent evidence of a more pronounced global economic slowdown, the recent selling looks overdone. And that could mean some bargains are emerging, though most developed equity markets are still far from cheap. We would highlight Japanese equities as one market offering relative value, as well as financial stocks in the U.S.," said BlackRock's global chief investment strategist, Russ Koesterich.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

The market will also be on edge as the Fed also begins its two-day meeting Tuesday, and while it is not expected to take any action on rates, traders are hopeful it will make some reassuring comments about market volatility and offer some guidance on rate hikes.

The central bank has forecast four rate increases for this year, while the market is expecting one. The Fed is scheduled to release its post-meeting statement Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET.

In economic news, the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite rose 5.8 percent year-over-year in November, topping expectations and faster than the 5.5-percent increase in October.

The November FHFA House Price Index rose 0.5 percent from the previous month, or 5.9 percent year-over-year.

Chinese stocks tanked over 6 percent Tuesday amid a renewed selloff in oil and caution ahead of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy decision.

China's Shanghai Composite closed down 6.4 percent, hitting its lowest level since December 2014. The late burst of selling came after the index traded down 2 percent for most of the session, giving up all of Monday's gains. Year-to-date, the index is already 22 percent lower.

Crude futures fell below $30 a barrel, before recovering to trade just above the $30 handle, as persistent worries about oversupply and more signs of a Chinese economic slowdown worried traders.

Data showed China's annual rail freight volume, a key economic indicator, fell 11.9 percent in 2015, versus a drop of 3.9 percent in 2014, adding to concerns of contracting economic activity and weighing on oil prices.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite ended more than 1.5 percent lower Monday, while the Dow Jones industrial average was off more than 200 points after the decline in oil prices.