US stocks were looking to get back on the winning track Tuesday morning following steep losses in the previous session, but traders remained cautious amid the release of a mixed bag of corporate earnings results.
As of 6:15 am ET, the Dow Futures were up 24 points, the S&P Futures were up 4 points, and the NASDAQ Futures were up 7 points.
After closing higher for six straight weeks, negative reaction to the latest earnings news inspired traders to do some profit taking on Monday.
The Dow closed down 289.60 points or 3.6 percent at 7,841.73, the Nasdaq closed down 64.86 points or 3.9 at 1,608.21 and the S&P 500 closed down 37.21 points or 4.3 percent at 832.39.
A slew of companies are also scheduled to report before the bell on Tuesday, led by the soon-to-be merged Merck & Co. (MRK) and Schering-Plough Corp. (SGP). Other big names expected to report before the bell include Caterpillar (CAT), Coach (COH), Coca Cola (KO), Manpower (MAN) and New York Times Co. (NYT).
DuPont (DD: News ) reported financial results for the first quarter, posting net income attributable to DuPont of $0.48 billion or $0.54 per share, compared to $1.19 billion or $1.31 per share in the prior year period.
On average, 14 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to report earnings of $0.52 per share. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.
Looking forward, for the fiscal year 2009, the company now expects earnings in a range of $1.70 to $2.10 per share, excluding significant items. Previously, the company estimated earnings per share in a range of $2.00 - $2.50 for the year.
International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) said Monday after the markets closed that first quarter earnings fell 1% from last year, as a lower tax rate, improved gross margins and tight cost control could not offset an 11.4% revenue drop. However, the company's quarterly earnings per share came in above analysts' expectations but its quarterly revenue fell short of analysts' forecast. At the same time, the company reiterated its earnings outlook for the full year 2009.
Meanwhile, chipmaker Texas Instruments Inc. (TXN) said that first quarter profit plunged by 97% over last year, hurt by higher restructuring charges, and lower revenue in all segments. However, the company's quarterly earnings per share, excluding items, and revenue exceeded both the analysts' as well as its own expectations. The company also provided financial forecast for the second quarter, which came in-line with the Street consensus.
Federal regulators plan to discuss the results of stress tests of the top 19 U.S. firms, designed to test the big financial institutions' ability to survive a much deeper economic downturn, government officials say.
The Federal Reserve and other banking regulators are expected to release a white paper April 24 that would reveal how regulators went about assessing the firms' health, including assumptions about the losses firms could face for loans and securities under different economic scenarios.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is expected on Capitol Hill for a hearing on oversight of the government's $700 billion bailout program at 10 a.m. ET.
There are no key economic reports due to released on Tuesday. Reports due later in the week include the Commerce Department's durable goods orders report and industry data on existing homes sales.
Asian stocks were hit hard Tuesday, with the Hang Seng of Hong Kong dropping 3 percent and Tokyo's Nikkei losing 2.4 percent.
In Europe, the FTSE of the UK was down 0.3 percent, while markets in German and France were fractionally higher.
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