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Stock Futures Slip After Economic Data

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were slipping Tuesday after a mixed batch of U.S. economic data tempered enthusiasm for a promising read on investor sentiment in Germany.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 44 points, or 45 points below fair value, at 12,791. Futures for the S&P 500 were down 5.7 points, or 5.4 points below fair value, at 1343. Futures for the Nasdaq were down 7.7 points, or 7.2 points below fair value, at 2560.

Debt downgrades of six European countries by Moody's Investors Service cast a shadow on the trading session, a fresh reminder of economic weakness in the region. The list of countries being downgraded includes Italy and Spain, which have now lost their triple-A ratings, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Malta.

With Greece on track to receive approval for a bailout from its European creditors, investors turned some of their focus to domestic economic news on Tuesday. The Commerce Department said that U.S. retail sales for January rose 0.4%, short of the expected 0.9% increase, according to Thomson Reuters. Sales were downwardly revised to unchanged in the previous month.

In a separate report from the Labor Department, Import prices for January increased by 0.3%, reversing a 0.1% decrease in December, as economists had expected. Import prices were up 7.1% year over year, while export prices were up 2.5% year over year.

At 10 a.m., business inventories for December are expected to rise 0.5%, adding to a 0.3% gain in the previous month.

In Europe, a reading on German investor confidence rose to its highest level in 10 months, according to the ZEW Center for Economic Research in Mannheim. European stocks were paring gains, however, after the morning's economic releases in the U.S. Germany's DAX was up 0.18% while London's FTSE was down 0.14%. Japan's Nikkei Average settled up 0.59%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 0.15%.

Analysts are expecting a pullback in equities, although it seems that has yet to set given that stocks were rallying again on Monday after Greece's approved a package of austerity measures that should clear the way for its bailout. Stocks reversed most of last Friday's losses in the prior trading session, with the Dow gaining 73 points.

In corporate news, Rackspace Hosting (RAX - Get Report), the cloud computing software maker and data center services provider topped fourth-quarter earnings and revenue expectations. The company reported earnings of $25 million, or 18 cents a share, in the quarter on revenue of $283.3 million. The performance beat the average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters for a profit of 15 cents a share in the quarter on revenue of $281 million. Rackspace shares were surging 9.3% to $53.80 in premarket trading Tuesday.

Beauty and household products maker Avon (AVP - Get Report) reported fourth-quarter adjusted income of $172 million, or 39 cents a share, falling below the average analyst estimate of 51 cents. Shares were plunging 7.4% to $16.24.

Zynga (ZNGA - Get Report), the largest social gaming company in the world, is expected by analysts to post a small profit in its first quarterly report as a public company. Zynga, knowns for its Facebook games such as "FarmVille" and "Words with Friends," is forecast to earn 3 cents a share on revenue of $302 million, up from year-earlier revenue of $195.8 million. Shares were rising 1.4% to $13.60.

Boeing (BA) said Tuesday it finalized an order from Indonesia's Lion Air for 230 airplanes valued at $22.4 billion, Boeing's largest ever commercial airplane order. Boeing said Lion Air's order includes 201 737 MAXs and 29 next-generation 737-900 ERs. Shares were gaining 1.1% to $75.65.

Apple (AAPL - Get Report) is working with component suppliers in Asia to test a new tablet computer with a smaller screen, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the situation. Officials at some of Apple's suppliers, who declined to be named, said Apple has shown them screen designs for a new device with a screen size of around 8-inches, and said it is qualifying suppliers for it. Apple's iPad 2, launched in 2011, comes with a 9.7-inch screen. Apple shares on Monday topped $500, finishing the trading session up 1.9% at $502.60.

March oil futures were up 57 cents to $101.48 a barrel. In other commodities, April gold futures were down $3.60 to $1721.30 an ounce.

The dollar index was down 0.07%. The benchmark 10-year Treasury was down 2/32, pushing the yield to 1.98%.

-- Written by Chao Deng in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Chao Deng.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to: @chao_deng

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Copyright 2011 Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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