Futures wobbled despite the strength of more earnings surprises from some of Wall Street's leading companies.
Construction machinery manufacturer Caterpillar led the charge, smashing analyst estimates with profit of 64 cents while also raising its full-year outlook. The earnings surprise sent Caterpillar's shares 6.5 percent higher in premarket trading.
Futures pared some gains—though the Nasdaq remained strongly positive—after economic numbers showed a steeper-than-expected fall in producer prices and a slip in housing starts as well.
Dow component DuPont also beat Street expectations, sending shares higher 3.3 percent, but investors were somewhat disappointed by a narrow beat from Coca-Cola, sending the soft drink giant's shares 2 percent lower premarket.
Investors thus far in earnings season have been encouraged enough to push the major averages to new 2009 closing highs. The S&P 500 cracked 1,100 intraday Monday for the first time since October 3, 2008, though it did not finish there.
The Nasdaq may well add to its highest close since September 26, 2008, thanks to the latest earnings from Apple, whose shares reached an all-time high after its quarterly report was released late yesterday afternoon. Apple shares were up 6.5 percent premarket.
Apple earned $1.82 per share for its latest quarter, 40 cents above estimates. The tech sector may also get a boost from Texas Instruments, which earned 42 cents a share for its third quarter, three cents above consensus. Its shares were up 2.5 percent premarket.
Other Dow components reporting before the opening bell this morning were Pfizer; and United Technologies, both of whichb beat forecasts. Pfizer gained 3.3 percent but UTX shares edged lower.
Among other companies on this morning's earnings calendar: Bank of NY Mellon; Comerica; Coach; Biogen Idec; Lockheed Martin; Lexmark; State Street; and UnitedHealth.
Yahoo is the most prominent company reporting quarterly numbers after the closing bell this afternoon.
Economic numbers are also in the mix this morning, including the Producer Price Index, housing starts, and building permits, all at 8:30 am New York time. Economists are looking for PPI to have fallen 0.3 percent for September, with the core rate rising 0.2 percent. They think housing starts will have risen 2.8 percent for last month, with building permits up 1.7 percent.
In M&A News, staffing company Adecco is buying MPS Group for $1.3 billion or $13.80 a share, a 24 percent premium over the most recent close for MPS.
Morgan Stanley is selling its retail asset management division to Invesco for $1.5 billion - that division includes both the Morgan Stanley and Van Kampen brand names. Morgan Stanley will get a 9.4 percent stake in Invesco.
- Written by Peter Schacknow, Senior Producer, CNBC Breaking News Desk