Stock index futures fell on Tuesday after the S&P 500 climbed to a 4-year high in the previous session as investors awaited factory orders data and minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting.

Stocks started the second quarter strong on Monday, with the S&P 500 marking its highest close since mid-May 2008. The Dow scored its highest finish since December 31, 2007, while the Nasdaq once again finished at levels not seen since late 2000.

Investors awaited minutes from the U.S. Federal Open Market Committee March 13 meeting, due at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT), that may provide clues on any potential quantitative easing.

Federal Reserve policymakers on Monday signaled little appetite for further monetary steps to stimulate U.S. growth in an economy that is gradually strengthening.

The U.S. Commerce Dept releases February factory orders data at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey expected a 1.5 percent rise, compared with a January decrease of 1.0 percent.

The financial sector will be in focus after European Union regulators said they want banks to restructure to wean themselves off cheap central bank loans and attract funding from investors and markets.

S&P 500 futures dipped 3.4 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 lost 34 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 4.5 points.

The FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of leading European shares inched lower early Tuesday after their biggest daily gain in three weeks on Monday, with mining stocks among the biggest decliners.

The U.S. futures regulator accused the Royal Bank of Canada of running a trading scheme of massive proportion to gain lucrative Canadian tax benefits.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into Groupon Inc's revised financial results, the Wall Street Journal reported.

U.S. automakers are due to release March auto sales later in the day. Economists expect annualized sales of 5.62 million cars and 5.80 million trucks versus February's 5.846 million cars and 5.854 million trucks.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will preside over an open session of the Financial Stability Oversight Council later Tuesday. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, FDIC acting Chair Martin Gruenberg, CFTC Chair Gary Gensler and other senior financial officials will participate.

(Reporting By Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)