RTTNews - US stocks were poised to kick off an abbreviated week on a lackluster note Tuesday morning in New York, but a pair of economic reports will likely go a long way in determining the direction of the major averages.

As of 6:15 am ET, the Dow Futures were down 23 points, the NASDAQ Futures were down 11 points, and the S&P Futures were down 2.3 points.

The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index, which tracks monthly changes in the value of residential real estate in 20 metropolitan regions across the U.S., is scheduled to be released at 9 AM ET. Economists expect an 18.4% year-over-year decline in the 20-city composite house price index for March.

The Conference Board is scheduled to release its consumer confidence report for May at about 10 am ET. The survey, which is based on a survey of 5,000 US households, is expected to show that the consumer confidence index rose to 42 in May.

The consumer confidence index for April rose to 39.2 from 26.9 in March. Economists had expected a reading of 29.9 for the month. The April reading marked the highest since November 2008. The expectations index climbed 19.3 points, while the present situation index was up about 2 points.

Rio Tinto (RTP), the Anglo-Australian mining group, agreed Tuesday to a 33%-44% cut in iron ore prices with Japan's Nippon Steel Corp. (NISTY.PK) for the contract year commencing April 1, 2009, which is reportedly the first in seven years. The price cuts reflect the worldwide slump in demand amid the economic recession. The Chinese are expected to drive an even harder bargain.

Canadian Auto Workers members voted in favor of a new cost-cutting deal with General Motors Corp. (GM, GM.TO) a key condition for the automaker to receive billions in government loans from Canada and Ontario.

GM, still faces a June 1 deadline, set by President Barack Obama, to restructure outside of court or file for bankruptcy protection.

The U.N. Security Council strongly condemned North Korea's carrying out of its second nuclear test in defiance of international warnings and triggering a new crisis in the Korean peninsula, reports say.

The council said the nuclear test was a clear violation of existing council resolutions, and in an unanimous statement adopted just hours after Monday's nuclear test its members decided to begin work immediately on a new resolution.

Global stocks slumped overnight. The major Asian markets gave back some of yesterday's gains, while the major European averages were uniformly lower.

The price of oil slipped back below the $60 mark, while the dollar firmed up against the euro after suffering big losses last week.

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