Stock Futures Point Higher As Commodities Sell-Off Eases

Monday's tragic events in Boston are foremost on the minds of investors this morning, with more details expected at a briefing by law enforcement officials at 9:30 a.m. ET.

The commodities slide that marked Monday's stock session has slowed this morning, with gold and silver posting slight gains. Oil, however, continues to drop with WTI crude touching its lowest level in five months. Monday's slide for the major averages was the biggest since November 7.

Today marks a busy day for economic releases, with March figures for both the consumer price index and housing starts out at 8:30 a.m. ET. Consensus forecasts call for a 0.1 percent drop in consumer prices following a 0.7 percent rise in February, with the ex-food & energy "core rate" up 0.2 percent, equaling February's increase. Housing starts are seen rising 1.7 percent to an annual rate of 933,000 units, following February's 0.8 percent rise.

At 9:15 a.m. ET, the Federal Reserve is expected to report a 0.2 percent rise in industrial production for March, after an increase of 0.8 percent in February, while factory capacity utilization is seen edging up by 0.1 percent to 78.4 percent.

The day will be dominated by comments by Fed speakers, with New York Fed president William Dudley, Chicago Fed president Charles Evans, governor Elizabeth Duke, vice chair Janet Yellen, and Minneapolis Fed president Naryana Kocherlakota all scheduled to give speeches today.

Several high profile earnings reports are on this morning's agenda, including the latest quarterly numbers from Dow components Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Coca-Cola (KO), as well as Goldman Sachs (GS). BlackRock (BLK), Comerica (CMA), Northern Trust (NTRS), and U.S. Bancorp (USB) are also scheduled to report this morning. After today's closing bell, we'll get the latest quarterly numbers from Intel (INTC), Yahoo (YHOO), and CSX Corp. (CSX).

Netgear (NTGR) is among our stocks to watch this morning, as the network equipment maker issues an estimated first quarter forecast below Street estimates. Netgear said shipments of new storage products were less than it had planned.

HCA (HCA) also announced a preliminary first quarter estimate that was below Street forecasts. The nation's largest for-profit hospital operator pointed to a slowdown in admissions growth as well as weaker outpatient volumes.

Mack-Cali Realty (CLI) is cutting its quarterly dividend by 33 percent in an effort to save cash. The payout will now be $0.30 per share compared to the prior $0.45, a move that will save more than $13 million per quarter. The real estate investment trust said weak demand for office space is impacting its business.

U.S. Airways (LCC) and American Airlines parent AMR have filed papers detailing how their merger agreement was negotiated, a step that U.S. Airways CEO Doug Parker said was significant in moving towards completing the deal.

Forest Labs (FRX) and Spanish partner Almirall said phase 3 clinical trial results for a new inhaler known as Genuair were positive. If the next round of testing has similar results, new drug applications will be filed with authorities in both the U.S. and Europe.

Macy's (M) will appeal a judge's interim ruling that rival J.C. Penney (JCP) can continue to sell unbranded Martha Stewart-designed goods in its stores, while a legal battle continues. A judge ruled last week that the goods could remain on Penney shelves as long as they don't display Stewart's name.