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Futures Get Help From Goldman Earnings

U.S. stock index futures gained ground after Goldman Sachs reported quarterly earnings that easily beat estimates even as the company comes under intensified fire for its trading practices.

Goldman posted earnings of $5.59 a share, well ahead of analyst estimates of $4.01. Shares briefly gained 2 percent in premarket trading and most recently were up 1.5 percent.

The UK financial watchdog, the Financial Services Authority (FSA), said it will launch a formal inquiry into the Wall Street giant, in connection to the Securities and Exchange Commission's probe.

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"Earnings are going to overshadow their legal battle for at least a couple of hours... I think Goldman is going to tell us how we're going to open," James Hughes, market analyst from CMC Markets, told CNBC.com.

The overall stock market could "creep higher," but "it seems everyone is a little bit cautious," he said.

Elsewhere in earnings, Johnson & Johnson earned $1.62 per share, ahead of expectations to send shares up less than 1 percent. Coca-Cola beat expectations but fell short in revenue, sending its shares down 1.5 percent. Leather goods market Coach also beat estimates, and its shares gained 1.5 percent, as did Harley-Davidson, which gained 2.7 percent.

Monday saw a late-day comeback with the Dow and the S&P 500 posting gains for the session.

European shares were higher, but pared gains after the FSA announced its Goldman inquiry. Large parts of European airspace remain closed, but some countries have eased restrictions. Asian stocks closed mostly higher in the wake of a positive U.S. close.

Goldman is just one of a number of well-known companies that will release quarterly reports Tuesday as earnings season heats up. Earnings releases before the bell include: Biogen Idec, Bank of New York Mellon, Delta Air Lines, Brinker International, Forest Labs, State Street, UnitedHealth, and U.S. Bancorp.

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After the closing bell, Apple, Altera, Gilead Sciences, Juniper Networks, Seagate Technology, and Yahoo will report numbers.

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Dow component Procter & Gamble isn't among those releasing earnings, but announced it raised its quarterly dividend 9.5 percent to 48 cents a share. Its shares rose nearly 1 percent premarket.

IBM, also a Dow component, beat expectations with its latest earnings late Monday and raised its guidance, though some investors were disappointed with the company's profit margin numbers. Shares fell 1.8 percent premarket.

Meanwhile, drugmaker Novartis said it is cutting about 20 percent of its U.S. headquarters staff, a total of 383 jobs. CKE Restaurantsreceived a $12.55-per-share takeover bid from Western Acquisition Holdings and said it will terminate a previous merger agreement with Thomas H. Lee Partners.

No economic numbers are set for release Tuesday. But Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner will appear before the House Financial Services Committee Tuesday morning New York time to talk about the circumstances surrounding the failure of Lehman Brothers. Details of their testimony were released Monday, so any news would come from the Q&A sessions that follow.