Futures on major U.S. stock indices pared earlier losses and point to a slightly higher opening Tuesday ahead of of economic data including retail sales.
Futures on the S&P 500 are up 0.09 percent, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average are up 0.05 percent and Nasdaq100 futures are up 0.16 percent.
U.S. Futures and European stocks pared losses after a gauge of German investor sentiment rose more sharply than expected in February to post its first positive reading since May. The German ZEW index rose to 5.4 from negative 21.6 in January and against analysts’ estimation of negative 10.0 in February.
On economic front, investors are also likely to focus on January Retail sales report from the Commerce Department, which is due to be released before market opens.
Economists are expecting the figure to rise by 0.8 percent in January boosted by higher vehicle sales. Automotive unit-sales rose by 4.6 percent last month to a 14.2 million unit rate.
The core retail sales, excluding auto, is expected to record 0.6 percent growth compared to the 0.2 percent decline in December. Meanwhile, business inventories are expected to have increased by 0.4 percent in December.
Earlier European markets slipped after Moody’s cut the debt ratings of Italy, Spain and Portugal and put France, the UK and Austria on alert, saying they are increasingly vulnerable to the eurozone crisis. Moody’s also cut its ratings on the smaller nations of Slovakia, Slovenia and Malta. All nine countries are members of the European Union.
The latest downgrade news weighed on already weak market sentiment as investors worried about Athens' ability to pursue harsh reforms in exchange for aa bailout package.
“Markets will likely trade cautiously ahead of Wednesday’s meeting of EU Finance Ministers especially as it appears that at least Germany and Netherlands remain sceptical of Greece’s austerity plans, which could frustrate the approval of a second EUR 130 billion bailout package,” said a note from Credit Agricole CIB.
Several major implementation risks remain for Greece to avoid a hard default. One of them is political opposition to the latest austerity bill despite the positive vote on Sunday, with New Democracy’s leader Samaras suggesting that he may try to renegotiate the package after the elections due in April.
Analysts’ at Credit Agricole still expect eurozone finance ministers to approve a second bailout package on Wednesday but it will probably require some explicit commitment from Greek leaders before the Memorandum of Understanding can be signed off.
Stocks to Watch:
FMC Technologies Inc. (FTI) is scheduled to report fourth quarter earnings after markets close Tuesday. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect the company, on average, to report a fourth quarter net income of $0.50 per share compared to $0.35 per share in the same quarter last year.
Metlife Inc. (MET) is slated to report fourth quarter earnings after the closing bell. Analysts expect the company to report fourth quarter net profit of $1.24 per share compared to $1.14 per share in the same period last year.
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) is projected to report fourth quarter net profit of $0.20 per share on revenues of $5.86 billion.
Ultra Clean Holdings Inc. (UCTT) stock climbed 16.67 percent to $9.10 in post market trading session Monday. The company reported fourth quarter net income of $7.8 million or $0.34 per share compared to $3.9 million or $0.17 per share in the same period a year earlier.
For the first quarter, the company expects earnings to be in a range of $0.15 to $0.18 per share on revenues of $105 million to $110 million, while analysts’ expect the company to report first quarter earnings per share of $0.09 on revenues of $88.98 million.