Futures Slip on Inflation Worries, Earnings

Stock index futures pointed to a mixed open for Wall Street as earnings season accelerates with the release of numbers from some high-profile companies.

A larger-than-expected rise in producer prices also caused futures to come well off their morning highs.

  • Dow 30: Extra-Hours Quotes
  • Pre-Markets/Futures Data
  • Video: Market Task Force
  • Earnings season kicked into full gear Tuesday with two very significant pre-market releases: quarterly numbers from Goldman Sachs and Dow stock Johnson & Johnson .

    Johnson & Johnson posted earnings of $3.2 billion that beat expectations, while also affirming its full-year outlook. Shares gained 0.6 percent in premarket trading but were well off their earlier highs.

    Goldman shares fell 0.4 percent following its earnings report, causing futures to pare some earlier gains, even though the numbers appeared to beat analyst estimates. The company reported net income for common shareholders of $2.7 billion, or $4.93 a share, compared with $2.05 billion, or $4.58 a share, in the closest year-earlier quarter.

    After the closing bell, investors will be focused on earnings releases from computer chip giant Intel, smaller chipmaker Altera, and KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut parent Yum Brands .

    The New York Stock Exchange, downtown New York City.
    Oliver Quillia for CNBC.com
    The New York Stock Exchange, downtown New York City.
    Sun Microsystems falsetruefalsetruefalsetruefalsetruefalsetrue

    it expects fiscal fourth-quarter results below Wall Street estimates.

    The server and software maker, which is being bought by Oracle in a $7.4 billion deal, predicts a loss of 24 cents to 34 cents per share in the quarter ended June 30. Excluding one-time items, Sun expects a loss of 6 cents to 16 cents per share.

    Futures had been indicating flat earlier on but turned positive in part on expectations that the government may help troubled commerical lender CIT Group get back on its feet. CIT shares rose more than 20 percent in premarket trading.

    Staying in the sector, Prudential Financial Group gained 2.5 percent premarket on an upgrade to "overweight" from JPMorgan.

    Also contributing to the move higher was a jump in the price of crude oil , which on Monday fell toward a two-month low.

    Goldman shares edged higher premarket after gaining 5.3 percent Monday on a bullish call from analyst Meredith Whitney. Rochdale Securities analyst Richard Bove added to the buoyant feeling for Goldman by telling CNBC on Tuesday that the company likely would see its share price hit $200 by year's end, a level that it said would be a "way station" toward $250.

    In deal news, Noven Pharmaceutical is being sold to Japan-based Hisamitsu Pharmaceutical Co. for about $428 million in cash.

    The tender offer of $16.50 per share marks a 22.4 percent premium to Noven's closing price of $13.48 Monday. Noven shares jumped a corresponding level in premarket trading.

    Some economic numbers will also play a part in shaping investor moods, with June numbers for the Producer Price Index and retail sales due out at 8:30 am. Economists expect wholesale inflation to have risen 0.8 percent in June, with retail sales posting an increase of 0.4 percent.

    At 10 am, the government releases May numbers on business inventories, with consensus forecasts calling for a drop of 0.8 percent.

    Dell will hold an analyst meeting this morning, but is already signaling what issues it may address: the computer maker says it's seeing stabilization in its product markets, though customers are still deferring some IT purchases.

    -Peter Schacknow, Senior Producer, CNBC.com, contributed to this report.