U.S. stocks slightly declined in early trade on Tuesday as investors await the release of the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 26.45 points, or 0.21 percent, to trade at 12,373.58 at 9:45 a.m. EST. The S&P 500 Index is down 2.43 points, or 0.18 percent, to trade at 1,330.44. The Nasdaq Composite fell 0.02 percent.

The minutes of the latest FOMC meeting will be released at 2:00 p.m. E.D.T. Investors are looking to see what the Federal Reserve will do with its program of quantitative easing and when it will start to raise interest rates. A more accommodative stance from the Federal Reserve is positive for the stock market and vice-versa.

On the corporate front, National Semiconductor Corp. (NYSE:NSM) shares climbed 71.14 percent and Texas Instruments (NYSE:TXN) declined 1.44 percent after Texas Instruments said it agreed to buy NSM for $6.5 billion, or $25 per share, a deal that combines two industry leaders in analog semiconductors, each with unique strengths in delivering products to improve performance and efficiency and convert real-world signals in electronic systems.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock moved down 0.93 percent to $338.00 in early trade. The company's weighting in the Nasdaq-100 Index was cut as it had its first major reshuffle since 1998 to better reflect companies’ market value. Apple’s representation will be reduced to 12.33 percent of the index on May 2, from 20.49 percent, Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. (NDAQ) said in a slide show on its website.

The US dollar rose against its major counterparts on Tuesday, after China’s central bank surprised the markets by raising interest rates for the fourth time since October last year to curb inflation. The euro fell 0.40 percent to 1.4164 against the dollar and the greenback gained 0.67 percent against the Japanese yen.

Crude oil futures declined 0.41 percent to $108.02/barrel and gold futures fell 0.03 percent.

European stock markets are currently trading lower with FTSE 100 down by 13.87 points, DAX30 down by 35.60 points and CAC 40 down by 19.68 points.

Moody's Investor Service downgraded Portugal's sovereign debt rating from A3 to Baa1. The rating agency said that Portugal is still under review for possible downgrade and expected the country to seek outside help in resolving its debt problems.