Stock index futures rose on Tuesday as investors searched for beaten-down shares in sectors such as financials after Wall Street's slide to a 12-year low the prior session.

Gains were tempered by caution ahead of key economic reports, however, including one that may show consumer confidence again hit a record low in February and another that may signal further deterioration in housing.

Before the bell, shares of JPMorgan climbed 5.1 percent to $20.50 after Citigroup raised its first-quarter profit view on the bank.

After the bell on Monday it had announced an 87 percent cut in its dividend to conserve capital and said it has been solidly profitable this quarter.

Bank of America rose 2.3 percent to $4 before the bell while Citigroup shares added 5.6 percent to $2.26.

There's a little bit of a bounce after yesterday's steep declines on bargain hunting, said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners in New York. But again we are in a technical breakdown. The market is full of fear. The downward trend has still not been broken.

S&P 500 futures rose 6.80 points, and were above 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 climbed 64 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 3.5 points.

The benchmark S&P 500 <.SPX> will start the regular session less than three points away from a fresh bear market low, raising the potential for the market to sink on any fresh signs of economic gloom.

Year-to-date, the index is down 17.7 percent, and off 52.1 percent from the October 2007 record peak, a drop stemming largely from worries about the deepening recession and concerns about the health of the banking sector.

In earnings news, leading U.S. home improvement retailer Home Depot Inc posted a fourth-quarter operating profit above Wall Street's estimates.

According to Reuters data, the S&P 500 is at its most oversold in three months when measured by its 50-day relative strength index.

Testimony from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke may offer clues on additional steps that could be taken to halt a sharp dive in the economy and he will likely be pressed on government plans to clean up the financial sector.

He is due to deliver the Fed's semiannual monetary policy report to Congress over two days, starting at 10 a.m..

The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index for December and the fourth quarter is due at 9 a.m., while a report on consumer confidence is due at 10 a.m..

Since the October 2007 market peak, the Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 index <.DWCF> -- one of the broadest measure of U.S. stocks -- is down 52.39 percent or $10.4 trillion.

Diminishing confidence that the U.S. government will be able to stabilize the financial system helped drive the S&P 500 and the Dow to their lowest closes since the spring of 1997 on Monday.

(Editing by James Dalgleish)