U.S. stock index futures pointed to a slightly higher open on Tuesday as disappointing economic data offset strong quarterly results from bellwethers Apple and Caterpillar.

New construction of U.S. homes rose less than expected in September, weighed down by a drop in ground-breaking activity for multi-family homes.

It doesn't bode too well. We really want to see an uptick here. Obviously housing is so important, said Dan Cook, senior market analyst at IG Markets in Chicago.

This should put some pressure on the market, maybe slow down earnings, but the focus is still going to be on the corporate earnings.

Apple Inc's profits and sales streaked past Wall Street forecasts on Monday, as sales of iPhones and Mac personal computers hit quarterly records. The stock jumped 6.4 percent to $202.09 in premarket trade.

Machinery maker Caterpillar Inc posted stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings and raised its full-year forecast. Caterpillar shares climbed 6 percent to $61.32 in premarket.

S&P 500 futures rose 2.6 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures added 28 points, while Nasdaq futures gained 15 points.

U.S. producer prices dropped an unexpected 0.6 percent in September, largely due to a 2.4 percent fall in energy prices, the Labor Department said on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; additional reporting by Leah Schnurr; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)