U.S. stock index futures point to a mixed open on Tuesday as a markedly lower Chinese inflation data lifted investor sentiment, while a buoyant report from aluminum manufacturer Alcoa marked the beginning of the U.S. corporate earnings season.
Futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.21 percent to 1,562.40. Futures on the Nasdaq 100 Index gained 0.32 percent to 2,790.00. However, futures on Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.06 percent to 14,554.
Investors are likely to focus on the U.S. corporate earnings season that commenced after the closing bell on Monday when aluminum producer Alcoa Inc. (NYSE:AA) reported its first quarter earnings. Alcoa Inc., viewed as a bellwether for the materials sector, reported a nearly 60 percent jump in quarterly profits, but its revenues missed analysts’ forecasts.
The company’s adjusted earnings per share were $0.11 on revenues of $5.83 billion against $0.10 per share reported in the same period last year, while the company’s net income was $149 million, or $0.13 per a share, from $94 million, or $0.09 reported a year earlier.
Analysts had estimated that the aluminum producer would report a profit of $0.08 per share on revenues of $5.88 billion.
Investors are expected to watch the corporate earnings reports as several companies closely, including Century Bancorp Inc. (NASDAQ:CNBKA), Harvest Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE:HNR), The Phoenix Companies Inc. (NYSE:PNX), PriceSmart Inc. (NASDAQ:PSMT), SeaChange International (NASDAQ:SEAC), Telestone Technologies Corporation (NASDAQ:TSTC) and Zep Inc. (NYSE:ZEP), which will report quarterly results on Tuesday.
U.S. stocks trimmed their morning losses and closed higher on Monday, rebounding from one of their lowest weekly levels in the year as investor sentiment was buoyed by a strong start of the U.S earnings season.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 48.23 points or 0.33 percent to close at 14,613.48. The broad-based S&P 500 gained 9.79 points or 0.63 percent to 1,563.07, while the Nasdaq Composite Index was up 18.39 points or 0.57 percent to close at 3,222.25.
Lower inflation data from China eased investors’ concerns that Chinese policy makers might tighten the country's monetary policy, thus ending the nation's monetary stimulus for economic recovery. China's annual consumer inflation eased markedly to 2.1 percent in March from February's 3.2 percent, while producer price deflation deepened, the government announced on Tuesday morning. Food price inflation, which had surged to 6 percent year-on-year in February, fell to 2.7 percent.
European markets rose in the opening minutes of trade as a strong start to the U.S. earnings season and positive Chinese inflation data boosted investor sentiment. European investors will likely look ahead to the U.K.'s industrial production and trade figures for February that will be released later in the day.
The U.K.'s FTSE 100 gained 0.6 percent in the first few hours of trading, while France's CAC-40 was up 7 percent. Germany's DAX Index was up 0.5 percent.
Earlier in Asia, several resource sector stocks got a boost from the solid first quarter results reported by U.S. aluminum company Alcoa. The Japanese Nikkei remained stable for a fifth-straight day on the back of a weak yen, which continued to depreciate following the Bank of Japan's announcement of aggressive monetary easing measures.
The Nikkei was little changed at 13,192.35 at closing, after it crossed the 13,000-mark on Friday for the first time since August 2008.
South Korea's KOSPI edged up 0.11 percent to 1920.74, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.70 percent to 21870.34. In China, the Shanghai Composite index gained 0.64 percent to 2225.77.