Stock index futures signaled a bounce on Tuesday, with sentiment underpinned by hopes that banks may be seeing some stabilization, although there was caution ahead of data that could show the recession taking a further toll on the housing market.

Also weighing on the market was bellwether Alcoa Inc's decision to cut its spending and dividend.

Bank stocks rising before the bell included JPMorgan , up almost 1 percent to $23.30. But any sign of more deterioration in the economy will present a significant hurdle for a market trying to sustain a rebound from 12-year lows reached earlier this month.

February U.S. housing starts data is due at 8.30 a.m. EDT, along with a report on the February Producer Price Index. A Reuters poll of analysts shows both housing starts and producer price increases are expected to have slowed from the previous month.

Banks seem for the most part to have passed the crisis stage, said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in New York.

But while the financial sector has found a level of stability, the problem is that the rest of economy weakened over the last several months and now you're seeing that impact sectors like technology. Tech is being challenged by a weak economy.

S&P 500 futures inched up 0.10 points and were above fair value, a formula to evaluate pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 4 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures edged up 0.25 points.

Shares of aluminum producer Alcoa, a Dow component, were down 12 percent at $5.38 before the bell. Its announcement provided one more clear sign of the widening impact of the economic slump.

Tuesday also marks the start of the Federal Reserve's 2-day policy-setting meeting.

With the U.S. central bank having cut interest rates close to zero, investors' focus will be on whether it would buy long-dated government debt as an additional measure to revive the economy.

U.S. stocks fell on Monday after American Express Co said the number of people struggling to make credit card payments grew, tempering earlier optimism that banks could return to profit in the downturn.

(Reporting by Ellis Mnyandu, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)