Futures Fall on Stress Test Fears

US stocks looked set to give back some of their recent gains at the open Tuesday as the government’s stress test for banks threatened to reignite fears over the sector.

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  • Ten out of the 19 banks undergoing the stress test have been found to need fresh capital by US regulators, according to a source familiar with official talks quoted by Reuters. The government is due to release the details of the tests on Thursday and the market is rife with speculation on what they will show.

Shares of Citigroup gained 3 percent ahead of the open, but Bank of America was in the red in pre-market trading.

UBS shares fell more than 1 percent premarket after the Swiss bank confirmed a nearly $1.8 billion loss for the quarter and warned that it may need further writedowns in the quarters ahead.

However, shares of AIG gained about 9 percent on reports that the troubled insurer will report a first-quarter loss on Thursday but will not need additional government capital infusions.

Futures were mildly below fair market value with more than two hours to go before the market open. Dow futures indicated a drop of about 0.5 percent at the open.

In earnings, Kraft Foods posted a profit of 40 cents per share, a nickel better than estimates and good enough to send shares 3 percent higher premarket. CVS Caremark also narrowly beat estimates at 55 cents per share, a penny better than expectations.

European stock indexes were broadly higher, with financial stocks leading the gains. Asian indexes closed with firm gains across the board.

Bank earnings were firmly in focus in the European session with Deutsche Postbank also reporting quarterly losses, but Asian-focused Standard Chartered turning in a profit for the last three months.

In the auto sector, Chrysler’s planned alliance with Fiatcould become derailed by a group of investment funds seeking to block the deal. Meanwhile, the Italian automaker set out its vision for the troubled industry by looking to take over Germany's Opel.

Federal Reserve Chief Ben Bernanke will speak on the economic outlook at a hearing off the Joint Economic Committee on Capitol Hill at 10 am New York time.

Other Fed officials taking to the stage include Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren, who is speaking at 6:45 am in Hong Kong. Minneapolis Fed President Gary Stern will speak in Minneapolis, Massachusetts at 2:15 pm and San Francisco Fed President Janet Yellen will talk at Berkeley, California at 10:30 pm.

There will also be a SEC roundtable discussion on short-selling rules in Washington at 10 am.

On the economic front, April’s ISM services index will be released at 10 am.