US Stock Futures Signal Flat Open

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Futures flat after last week's gains
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, August 1, 2011. Stocks turned negative after a strong opening on Monday as relief over a last-ditch debt deal in Washington faded after a weak reading on the manufacturing sector.

The U.S. stock index futures pointed to a flat open Tuesday with markets prepared to reopen after the President's Day holiday.

The futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.01 percent, the futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were up 0.02 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were down 0.02 percent.

Investors are likely to maintain a cautious mode as the key housing indicators such as existing home sales, housing starts and building permits and inflation data are due to be released during the week.

Market participants’ main focus will be on corporate earnings reports Tuesday as no major economic data is due to be released during the day. Companies, including Windstream Corporation (NASDAQ: WIN), Analog Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: ADI), Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL), Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE: HLF) and NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI), are expected to announce their quarterly results Tuesday.

Dell is forecasted to report the fourth quarter net profit of $0.39 per share on revenues of $14.12 billion compared to $0.51 per share on revenues of $16.03 billion in the same quarter last year.

On the housing front, NAHB Housing Market Index is expected to show a reading of 48 for February, compared to the prior month’s 47.

On Friday, the U.S. stock markets ended on a mixed note as positive economic data was offset by worries of weak retail sales.  Shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT) fell 2.15 percent in the afternoon trading after Bloomberg News reported that a vice president at Wal-Mart Stores called the retailers February sales a total disaster in an internal email.

European stock markets were trading lower as investors awaited key Germany ZEW survey data. London's FTSE 100 declined 0.18 percent, France's CAC-40 fell 0.2 percent and Germany's DAX slipped 0.14 percent.

The ZEW's indicator of economic sentiment, which tracks the expectations of investors and analysts, regarding the German economy in the coming six months, is expected to rise to 35 in February from 31.5 in January.

Asian markets mostly declined Tuesday, with Japanese stocks ending lower after surging in the previous session as the yen picked up against the greenback. Investors opted for caution ahead of the nomination of the next Bank of Japan (BOJ) governor. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will pick a nominee as early as this week before his scheduled meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama Feb 22.

Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.31 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng declined 1.02 percent and Chinese Shanghai Composite plunged 1.60 percent while India’s BSE Sensex fell 0.08 percent and South Korea’s KOSPI Composite gained 0.20 percent.

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