The S&P 500 and Dow index futures rose slightly on Tuesday, but gains were capped after disappointing results from Hewlett-Packard.
The Nasdaq index futures turned negative after the tech company reported a negative outlook, sending its shares down 4.4 percent in premarket trading to $39.07.
HP's rival, computer maker Dell , is due to report quarterly earnings after the bell.
Investors will now be closely looking at other big names like Dell to see if this (the weak results) is a trend (in the industry) or if this is just isolated to certain companies, said Sal Arnuk, co-manager of trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc shares fell 0.1 percent to $56.00 in premarket trade. Sales at its U.S. discount stores open at least a year fell 1.1 percent during its first quarter, marking its eighth straight quarterly decline as it works to lure shoppers back to the biggest chain.
Home Depot Inc shares fell 0.2 percent to $36.90 before the bell after the home improvement company reported weaker-than-expected quarterly sales as inclement weather hurt demand for seasonal goods at the start of the spring selling season.
The results came the day after Home Depot's smaller rival, Lowe's Cos , reported weaker-than-expected quarterly sales and earnings and cut its forecast for the year after a slow start to the key selling season.
Such retailers have found it harder to sell to homeowners in an uneven U.S. economy. Many shoppers have stayed away from expensive renovations amid falling housing prices.
Housing starts data is scheduled for release at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT), with economists predicting a rise to around 568,000 in April compared with 549,000 a month earlier.
Other data set for release includes April's industrial output figures at 9:15 a.m (1315 GMT).
S&P 500 futures rose 0.4 point and were about even with fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration of the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 5 points while Nasdaq 100 futures fell 1.5 point.
The Nasdaq <.IXIC> fell on Monday as investors worried about the U.S. economic outlook. The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> and the S&P 500 <.SPX> were also off after a regional report on manufacturing added to worries about the outlook.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating Bank of America Corp , Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs about mortgage-backed securities, the Wall Street Journal said, citing sources.
Mining equipment maker Joy Global is to buy Rowan Cos Inc's drilling and mining gear unit for $1.1 billion in cash.
(Reporting by Angela Moon, Editing by Kenneth Barry)