- Stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Wall Street on Tuesday, as the market reopens after a long holiday weekend, with investors bracing for quarterly results from retail behemoth Wal-Mart .

At 4:48 a.m. EST, futures for the S&P 500 were down 2.1 percent, Dow Jones futures were down 1.8 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures were down 1.9 percent.

Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, is expected to report a rare decline in profit. While gaining customers amid a year-long recession, Wal-Mart has warned of lower-than-expected sales at its Sam's Club and international divisions, while facing higher than expected expenses. Its results are also being hurt as a stronger U.S. dollar lowers the values of its overseas sales, and it takes a charge for settling 63 class action wage and hour lawsuits.

Fuelling fears over consumer spending, L'Oreal , the world's biggest beauty products group, posted full-year sales growth below its twice-revised target and steered clear of giving guidance for 2009.

The dollar rose broadly while the euro hit a more than two-month low on Tuesday, pressed by concerns over a recession in eastern Europe and the knock-on effect on European banks.

U.S. oil prices fell toward $36 a barrel as grim economic indicators in Asia returned focus to the worldwide oil demand slump.

Data showed on Monday Japan sank deeper into recession with its worst quarterly contraction since the oil crisis in the 1970s, its reliance on exports and soft domestic demand dragging down the world's second-largest economy.

World stocks fell to a two-week low on Tuesday, and government bonds and gold surged as concerns about the economy and corporate profit intensified. The FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of top European shares was down 1.5 percent, falling for the fifth time in six sessions.

Gold hit record highs when priced in euros, sterling, Canadian dollars and South African rand on Tuesday as buyers bought into the metal as a safe store of value.

The auto sector will be in focus after General Motors Corp and the United Auto Workers union made progress in concession talks and bondholders offered proposals to slash GM's debt on Monday, a day before the automaker must detail a new survival plan.

China Investment Corp (CIC), a $200 billion sovereign wealth fund, is in talks with local banks to jointly bid for American International Group Inc's $8 billion aircraft leasing unit, sources with knowledge of the situation said on Tuesday.

Apart from Wal-Mart, companies reporting results on Tuesday include Agilent Tech. Inc , Medtronic Inc , Chesapeake Energy Corp , Genuine Parts , and Hospira , while on the macro front, investors awaited for New York Fed manufacturing survey.

(Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Raji Menon)