Stock index futures pointed to a lower open for Wall Street Tuesday as mounting violence in Libya prompted investors to cash in recent gains and take a more cautious stance after the President’s holiday on Monday.
Futures also slipped lower after the Case-Shiller Home Price Indexreported a 1.2 percent drop in its 10-city index, and a 2.4 percent drop in the 20-city index. The index is down for the sixth straight month.
At the same time, investors received a mixed batch of earnings news.
Home Depot gained after reporting better-than-expected profit and revenue, but Wal-Mart sank, after posting its seventh straight quarterly dropin U.S. sales. The discount retailer said sales fell 1.8 percent in the fourth quarter.
Macy's rose slightly after reporting higher profits on rising holiday sales. The department store chain expects sales and profits will continue to rise this year. But Barnes & Noble declined more than 5 percent after announcing it would suspend its dividend, and didn't provide a final quarter outlook for its fiscal year because of the bankruptcy filing of rival Borders.
Hewlett Packard will report earnings after the market closes.
In other corporate news, BHP Billiton plans to buy shale gas reservesfrom Chesapeake Energy for $4.75 billion.
Oil prices will take center stage as Libyan production falls amid violence in the country. Both London Brent and U.S. light sweet crude oil rallied to 2.5-year highs on Tuesday on concerns the revolt in Libyacould spread to other major oil producers in the Middle East and North Africa.