Stock index futures pointed to a modestly lower open on Tuesday as investors found little reason to continue buying in what was expected to be a light-volume session following recent gains.
The S&P 500 has risen for four straight sessions and turned positive for the year on Friday, with improving economic data helping to boost equities last week. The gains, which lifted the benchmark index above its 200-day moving average, were amplified by the light pre-holiday trading.
U.S. single-family home prices fell more than expected in October, according to S&P/Case-Shiller data, underscoring the challenges facing the housing market.
There's not enough of a surprise in the number to get people to put on a risk on trade, said Paul Radeke, vice president at the Minneapolis-based KDV Wealth Management. Especially when there's a lack of participation in the market.
Investors are also looking ahead to December consumer confidence data, scheduled for release at 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT), which is seen rising to 58.3 from 56.0.
There won't be much action today because of the holiday, but if there's anything surprising in the data we could see an exaggerated move because of how light the volume will be, said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The data comes after better-than-expected housing and jobless claims data last week that confirmed a slowly improving economy.
S&P 500 futures fell 3.9 points and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures slipped 19 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 1.5 points.
Going into 2011's last week of trading, the Dow is up 6.2 percent so far this year, the S&P is up less than 1 percent and the Nasdaq is down 1.3 percent.
Markets were flat globally following the long Christmas weekend, with European stocks <.FTEU3> nearly flat.
Sears Holdings Corp
Bank of America Corp
Equities extended their gains to close out a fourth straight winning session on Friday after the strong economic data. In addition, investors hoped that Congressional approval of a two-month extension of a payroll tax cut would remove a headwind that could have hit growth in 2012.
(Reporting By Ryan Vlastelica; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)