Futures Remain Weak After Home Price News

Stock index futures continued to trade weak as another raft of heavyweight earnings took center stage and the market awaited the State of the Union address.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller composite indexof home prices fell for the fifth month in a row in November, indicating a double-dip in home prices may be confirmed by spring. The index of 20 metropolitan areas fell 0.5 percent in November from October on a seasonally adjusted basis, although economists had expected the index to slip 0.8 percent, according to Reuters. For the year, prices have dropped 1.6 percent.

Some bad news from overseas also pressured U.S. futures, with the UK posting a surprising shrink in gross domestic product and on news that troubled Spanish banks will need more capital to stay afloat.

The earnings news, which began after the bell Monday with reports from American Express and Texas Instruments , continued Tuesday with earnings from DuPont , which came in at 50 cents per share for the fourth quarter, well above the 32 cents per share forecast by analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters. Revenue at the diversified agricultural and chemicals company was $7.4 billion, also higher than the $6.9 billion forecast. Shares edged higher in pre-market trading.

Travelers also gained in the pre-market after reporting earnings above analyst forecasts.

3M declined despite reporting earnings of $1.28 per share, a penny ahead of estimates, on $6.7 billion in revenue, a 9.6 percent annualized increase. The company also raised its full-year forecast.

Verizon edged lower after reporting a bigger-than-expected increase in wireless subscribers. Travelers gained 2 percent pre-market while Verizon fell about 1 percent.

And Johnson & Johnsonslumped after reporting a plunge in sales for consumer producers in the wake of several product recalls.

Also in earnings, computer software firm VMWare slumped despite reporting strong quarterly earnings, as investors focused on word the company's margins wouldn't expand, and despite boosts in the stock's price target from at least two brokerages.

And storage cloud-computing company EMC also declined despite a 61 percent jump in fourth-quarter profit as revenue and margins grew.

Also in economic news, the Federal Reserve kicks off its first meeting of 2011 on Tuesday. The Fed is expected to move ahead with plans to complete its $600 billion bond buying program.

The IMF said on Tuesday a package of US tax cuts should give a lift to a global economic recovery that had already begun to gain speed late last year. It revised its world growth forecast higher.

Consumer confidence is also due at 10 a.m., with economists expecting a reading of 53.5, according to Briefing.com. And the Richard Fed will deliver its survey of business activity.

There is also an auction of $35 billion in 2-year notes at 1 p.m.

President Obama gives his State of the Union address Tuesday evening. He is expected to strike a centrist tone and highlight job creation and American competitiveness.

After-the-bell earnings reports include Yahoo, Norfolk Southern, Juniper Networks and Stryker and Gilead Sciences.


European stocks werelower in morning trade on Tuesday, with banks lower on worries about exposure to the peripheral economies of the euro zone and after new data showed Britain’s economic growth slowed in the fourth quarter.

On the Calendar This Week:

TUESDAY: President Obama's State of the Union address; consumer confidence, Richard Fed business activity survey, state-by-state unemployment, two-year Treasury note auction, API weekly report; Bank of Japan monetary policy meeting; after-the-bell earnings from Yahoo!
WEDNESDAY: Davos/World Economic Forum; mortgage applications, new home sales, oil inventories, five-year Treasury note auction, FOMC announcement; earnings before-the-bell from Boeing, United Technologies, Xerox; earnings after-the-bell from Netflix.
THURSDAY: Durable goods, jobless claims, pending home sales, natural gas inventories, seven-year Treasury note auction, money supply; before-the-bell earnings from AT&T, Caterpillar, and Colgate-Palmolive; after-the-bell earnings from Microsoft.
FRIDAY: GDP (first reading), consumer sentiment; NBCU/Comcast deal closes; before-the-bell earnings from Chevron and Honeywell.

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