Wall Street was set to struggle at the open on Tuesday after sharp losses in the previous session and on continued concerns about Europe's debt crisis.
The Dutch state successfully completed a bond auction a day after the government collapsed in a crisis over budget cuts, but investors demanded a slightly higher risk premium as euro zone yields have edged higher.
People are defensive, obviously they are worried about what's going on in Europe, said Wayne Kaufman, chief market analyst at John Thomas Financial in New York. We are seeing a lack of buyers coming in to scoop up these oversold levels, which means the caution flag is really up.
Results from Apple Inc after the close could be a stabilizing factor for the Nasdaq. The results will be dissected after a share swoon raised concerns a gravity-defying rally was over. Apple is down 10 percent from its closing peak this year.
S&P 500 futures added 0.7 point and were in line with 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 gained 12 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures dipped 5.75 points.
The S&P 500 should hold near-term support at 1,340 during the current pullback before extending its rally again, according to Brown Brothers Harriman analysts. The index, which held at 1,340 during a pullback in early March, closed Monday at 1,366.94. The level also coincides with a 23.6 percent retracement of the rally from October.
There is this persistent worry over the euro zone now, said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York. It appears that the markets are trying to force once again the EU to take a more aggressive approach in terms of growth.
The FTSEurofirst European stocks index edged up 0.2 percent Tuesday following the last session's losses, but gains could be fragile as fears over the euro zone debt situation persisted, with Spanish and Dutch debt auctions under the spotlight.
European banks, a key barometer of risk appetite, slipped to near session lows as the morning progressed. The STXE 600 Bank index fell 0.6 percent.
U.S. single-family home prices rose for the first time in 10 months in an encouraging sign the battered sector was starting to stabilize. The S&P/Case-Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas gained 0.2 percent in February on a seasonally adjusted basis.
So far, earnings have been solid, with more than 80 percent of S&P 500 companies topping consensus profit estimates as of Monday.
AT&T Inc's profit rose, driven by a rise in wireless margins as it had shelled out less in subsidies to Apple because it sold fewer iPhones. The stock was up 1.5 percent to $31.07 in premarket trade.
3M Co's profit rose 4 percent, helped by a strong performance in its transportation business and growth in the Americas. The stock was up 3 percent to $89.71 premarket.
One-time market darling Netflix Inc projected slower subscriber growth this quarter for its key U.S. video-streaming service. The stock slid 14.8 percent to $86 premarket.
Texas Instruments Inc forecast second-quarter revenue growth above estimates, signaling the end of a prolonged inventory-related decline in demand. Shares were up 3 percent to $32.83 early Tuesday.
(Reporting by Ed Krudy; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)