Stock index futures slightly pared losses, although remained down, after the government reported import prices rose in March, and the trade deficit fell.
Futures had already fallen after news that Alcoa's sales were lower than expected. Alcoa, the world's largest producer of aluminum, is the first Dow component to report quarterly results, and is considered a bellwether for earnings season.
Import prices rose 2.7 percent in March from a 1.4 percent gain in February thanks to higher oil and food prices, the Labor Department said Tuesday.
The trade deficit fell 2.6 percent in February to $45.8 billion, as exports fell 1.4 percent to $165.1 billion, the Commerce Department said. Imports fell 1.7 percent to $210.9 billion.
Alcoa reported first-quarter earnings of 28 cents per share, excluding one-time items. Sales for the most recent quarter rose to $5.96 billion, up from $4.89 billion last year.
But revenue missed analysts’ expectations. Alcoa was seen earning 27 cents a share on revenue of $6.07 billion, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.