Stock were set for a lower open on Tuesday as equities appeared ready to pause after the S&P 500 advanced for a third straight session, moving within 10 percent of its historic closing high.
The benchmark S&P has risen in eight of the past nine sessions, putting the index at its highest point since May 2008 and 10 percent below the record close of 1,565.15 in October 2007.
The market has shrugged off sluggish starts to the session recently, building upward momentum to finish higher.
Easing concerns about the euro zone debt crisis and improving domestic data have lifted the S&P index more than 12 percent for the year and over 28 percent from the October low.
U.S. Commerce Department data showed a steady improvement in the housing market, as permits for future construction jumped to their highest level since October 2008, although starts fell.
It seems like a market that probably just needs to take a rest, but I wouldn't be surprised -- this is kind of the pattern -- either flat or negative futures, and we rally into the day. It's sort of remarkable, said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank in Chicago.
It is now a focus back on the fundamentals on the economy and those news items aren't quite as daunting, it's really just fine tuning.
Investors will monitor talks as Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti began a final push for a deal with unions to revamp labor laws aimed at creating jobs and underpinning wider reforms to aid the weak economy.
Adding to concern were signs of slowing in China's economy as Australian miners such as BHP Billiton
S&P 500 futures fell 7.4 points and were below 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 dropped 64 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 14 points.
Jewelry chain Tiffany and Co
Earnings were also expected from contract manufacturer Jabil Circuit Inc
Adobe Systems Inc
Bank of America Corp
Walt Disney Co
(Reporting By Chuck Mikolajczak; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)