Futures Higher as Earnings Raise Hopes

U.S. stock index futures were higher Tuesday, lifted by some better-than-expected earnings reports.

A positive surprise from Dow component Travelers helped turn sentiment positive after futures were lower earlier due to dismal Chinese PMI data released early on Tuesday that widened stock losses in Asia.

HSBC's preliminary survey of factory managers showed the expansion in factory activity in China eased in April, renewing fears of a slowdown in the world's second biggest economy.

(Read More: Uh-Oh, China's PMI Miss Spells Trouble Ahead)

However, shares in Europe were boosted by better-than-expected PMI (purchasing managers' index) data from France, although Germany posted a sharp drop in business activity.

(Read More: Germany Drags Down Growth in Euro Zone)

Dow components Du Pont and United Technologies both posted earnings that beat on profit. Du Pont shares edged higher while United Technologies slipped after both companies disappointed on top-line revenue.

Blowout earnings after-the-bell Tuesday from Netflix also helped boost sentiment. The stock is on pace to open at its best level since September 2011.

(Read More: Earnings Flash Warning Sign for Stocks)

Apple earnings will be the main focus after the closing bell in addition to Dow industrial component AT&T. Norfolk Southern, Amgen, and Yum Brands are also among notable companies slated to post results.

Apple has lost $287 billion in market capitalization, or 44 percent of its value, since hitting its all-time high in September. Analysts polled by Reuters forecast it will post earnings of $13.81 on revenue of $54.5 billion, versus earnings of $13.87 on revenue of $46.3 billion a year before.

(Read More: Get Ready for Apple Earnings — Decent or Disaster?)

U.K.-based chip designer ARM Holdings posted first-quarter earnings that also topped analysts' views; shares traded 7.02 percent higher on the news, boosting European indexes.

After Monday's weaker-than-expected reading for existing home sales, investors will eye two further housing market indicators on Tuesday. At 10 a.m. ET, new home sales numbers for March will be released, following the Federal Housing Finance Agency's monthly home price index for February at 9 a.m.

In the bond markets, the Treasury will sell two-year notes with the results available shortly after 1pm ET.