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Oil Still Weighing on Stocks

Solid earnings from Alcoa can't lift the futures.

Stocks were lower early Tuesday as continuing pressure from energy markets squelched any optimism created by



first-quarter earnings beat.

Index futures recently showed the

S&P 500

trading 3 points below fair value, while the Nasdaq 100 was set for a 4-point decline. The 10-year Treasury bond was up 2/32 in price to yield 4.95%, while the dollar fell against the yen and euro.

Crude powered higher, building on its 12% gain since the start of January. On Monday, oil closed near an eight-month high as concerns about U.S. military intentions in Iran spread jitters in futures markets. May crude recently rose 63 cents to $69.37 a barrel in electronic Nymex trading.

Strength in another commodity, aluminum, helped Alcoa report a doubling in first-quarter earnings to $608 million, or 69 cents a share, as sales rose 16% to $7.2 billion. Analysts were forecasting earnings of 51 cents a share on sales of $7.2 billion. The


component's shares rose 7% to about $35 in after-hours trading.

Real estate has also been hot and underpinned strong orders at

D.R. Horton


. The homebuilder said it booked 15,771 orders worth $4.4 billion in the three months to March 31, up 10% and 7%, respectively, from a year ago.

Tuesday's earnings docket includes



, the biotech titan whose shares have quadrupled since early 2003. A key number will be sales of cancer blockbuster Avastin, which analysts currently peg at about $389 million.

Stocks ended mixed Monday as high oil and interest rates kept buyers mostly sidelined. Since their most recent trough last fall, however, stocks remain firmly in bull-market mode, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 6.7% since Halloween, the S&P 500 up 7.5% and the

Nasdaq Composite

up 10%.

Overseas stocks eased, with London's FTSE 100 recently down 0.1% to 6061 and Germany's Xetra DAX losing 0.8% to 5956. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei fell 0.2% overnight to 17,418, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.3% to 16476.

To view David Peltier's video take on today's premarket action, click here


No major economic reports are scheduled for Tuesday. On Wednesday, investors will see data on the U.S. trade deficit for February. Economists forecast a slight narrowing to $67.6 billion. On Thursday the Commerce Department is expected to say that retail sales rebounded by 0.5% in March after falling 1.4% in February.

Among companies,

Bausch & Lomb


stopped shipping varieties of its ReNu contact lens solution in the U.S. after the FDA reported a rising number of fungal infections in patients using the product. Shares dove after hours.



said second-quarter earnings rose to $193.2 million, or 27 cents a share, thanks to an asset-sale gain. Revenue fell 6% from a year ago to $1.23 billion, about $110 million short of estimates.

General Motors


confirmed a deal to sell its stake in Isuzu to a group of trading companies for $300 million. The transaction is the latest in a series of transactions GM has pursued to raise cash by selling noncore assets.