U.S. stock index futures struggled to hold gains on Tuesday following four straight sessions of losses, but weakness in overseas markets and the start of earnings season kept investors on edge.
The S&P 500 has rallied almost 10 percent in 2012, but declined 2.6 percent in the past four sessions amid doubts over the strength of the economy and the Fed's willingness to continue providing further stimulus to bolster the recovery.
Dow component Alcoa is slated to post earnings after-the-bell, marking the unofficial start to earnings season. Google , JPMorgan and Wells Fargo are also scheduled to report throughout the week.
FBR raised its price target on a handful of large banks including BofA , JPMorgan and WellsFargo.
European shares remained lower following the long Easter weekend, as traders reacted to last week's weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs data for the first time.
However, markets were encouraged following news that China ran a trade surplus in March, against analysts’ expectations, calming fears of a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.
On the economic front, data on wholesale inventories are due at 10 a.m. ET. Economists forecast a gain of 0.5 percent versus an increase 0.4 percent in January, according to a Reuters poll.
And the Treasury Department is scheduled to auction $32 billion 3-year notes, with the results available around 1 p.m. ET.
Small business confidence slipped for the first time in six months, further supporting the notion that economic growth slowed in the first quarter. The National Federation of Independent Business said its optimism index dropped to 92.5 in March from 94.3 in the prior month.
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Coming Up This Week:
TUESDAY: Wholesale trade, Atlanta Fed pres speaks, 3-yr note auction, Minneapolis Fed pres speaks; Earnings from Alcoa and interim results from Chevron
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps, import & export prices, Kansas City Fed pres speaks, oil inventories, Boston Fed pres speaks, 10-yr note auction, Fed's Beige Book, St. Louis Fed pres speaks, Carnival shareholders meeting; Earnings from Progressive
THURSDAY: International trade, jobless claims, PPI, Philadelphia Fed pres speaks, 30-yr bond auction, Minneapolis Fed pres speaks; Earnings from Rite Aid, Google
FRIDAY: CPI, consumer sentiment, Bernanke speaks; Earnings from JPMorgan, Wells Fargo
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