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Stock Futures Point to Mixed Open


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were pointing to a mixed open early Tuesday as investors awaited the release of data on consumer confidence and new home sales.

Tech stocks were showing some cracks with Apple (AAPL) down 2% with its quarterly report due after the close, Netflix (NFLX) tanking following its first-quarter numbers, and Symantec (SYMC) losing ground because of a below-consensus outlook.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 27 points, or 29.8 points above fair value, at 12,898. Futures for the S&P 500 were higher by 2.2 points, or 2.2 points above fair value, at 1365.

Futures for the Nasdaq were down 2.8 points, or 1.7 points below fair value, at 2648 as shares of Apple (AAPL) drifted lower and Netflix (NFLX) plunged.

Stocks sold off Monday as questions about Europe's economic and political stability rattled Wall Street.

Tuesday's U.S. economic calendar features reads on consumer confidence and new-home sales data at 10 a.m. EDT.

The Conference Board is expected to say its consumer confidence index decreased in April to 69.7 from 70.2 the previous month, according to Thomson Reuters.

The Department of Commerce is expected to report new home sales rose modestly to 320,000 in March from a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 313,000 the prior month as home inventories stabilize and labor market conditions improve.

"The home sales data has been bumpy and housing is trying to form a bottom and has been for many months and I don't see any change in that," says Michael Sansoterra, fund manager at RidgeWorth. "It's the spring buying season. Most people expect housing to be bumpy."

The Federal Housing Finance Agency's Housing Price Index also arrives at 10 a.m. EDT.

Earlier, the Case-Shiller 20-city Index showed a slight rise in February, up 0.15% from January, falling slightly short of the consensus view for an increase of 0.2%, and bringing it to an annual decline of 3.5% versus the expected fall of 3.4%.

Also, the Federal Reserve's latest two-day meeting on monetary policy starts Tuesday. Economists expect the central bank to stay committed to low rates until 2014, with Chairman Ben Bernanke likely leaving the door open for further quantitative easing. Bernanke is slated to hold one of his quarterly news conferences on Wednesday.

In corporate news, Apple has been weak ahead of its quarterly report, losing ground in nine of the past 10 sessions and dropping roughly 10% in the process. Analysts are expecting earnings of $10.02 a share in the company's fiscal second quarter on revenue of $36.7 billion. Investors will be paying close attention to iPhone sales, given recent worries of a slowdown. The stocks was down 2.2% at $559.23 ahead of the open.

London's FTSE was up 0.3% and Germany's DAX was rising 0.6%. Elsewhere, Japan's Nikkei Average finished down 0.8% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed up 0.3%.

AT&T (T - Get Report) beat analysts' first-quarter earnings estimates on Tuesday, boosted by strong wireless sales and its smartphone business.

The telecom giant brought in revenue of $31.82 billion, an increase of 1.8% from the same period last year. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters were looking for sales of $31.85 billion. Excluding items, AT&T earned 60 cents a share, up from 57 cents a share in the prior year's quarter and above Wall Street's estimate of 57 cents. Shares were rising 1.3% at $31.01 in premarket trading.

3M (MMM - Get Report) shares were popping 3.1% at $89.80 after the maker of Post-It notes and Scotch tape reported first-quarter earnings of $1.12 billion, or $1.59 a share, up from year-earlier earnings of $1.08 billion, or $1.49. The latest quarter included a one-time charge of 4 cents a share. Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of $1.49 a share. Sales rose 2.4% to $7.5 billion. 3M raised its full-year 2012 guidance to a range between $6.35 a share and $6.50 a share.

Netflix , the DVD and streaming content company, said Monday it expected weaker-streaming additions in the current quarter. Netflix said because of increased seasonality it expects net additions to be below 2010's level.

Netflix said it expects to have between 23.6 million and 24.2 million subscribers, implying growth between 200,000 and 800,000 streaming subscribers. It also expects second-quarter revenue of $873 million to $895 million. Analysts forecast revenue of $895.11 million. Netflix said it expects a second-quarter loss of between 10 cents and 14 cents a share. Analysts estimated a loss of 17 cents a share. Shares were plunging 14.8% at $86.75.

Texas Instruments (TXN), the chipmaker, reported better-than-expected first-quarter profit and revenue and provided an upbeat forecast saying: "Our inventory is well-staged, and production in our factories is ramping." Shares were rising 2.9% at $32.80.

June oil futures were off 8 cents at $103.03 a barrel, while June gold futures were rising $6.20 at $1,638.80 an ounce.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was slipping 3/32, pushing the yield to 1.9%, while the U.S. dollar index was flat at $79.35.


-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.



>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.

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