Updated from 6:47 a.m. EST
Premarket futures were indicating a slightly lower open for Wall Street, but the situation had improved from the early lows after traders received encouraging news from several big technology companies.
Futures for the
were down 7.9 points at 843 and were 6.7 points short of fair value.
futures were lower by 5.3 points at 1153 but were half a point above fair value.
Two pieces of news in particular helped lift futures, particularly on the technology side, off their worst levels of the day. Computer hardware and software maker
was partly responsible, after the company said its fourth-quarter profit would exceed analysts' expectations. Shares of H-P, part of the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
, were rising in the premarket.
Another boost came from
, which said CEO Jerry Yang is set to step down from his position as soon as the Internet firm can find a replacement. Yang's tenure was recently marked by a refusal to sell his company to
. Yahoo! shares were rising in early action.
On Monday, trading in stocks was choppy before the major averages fell sharply in the final minutes of the session. Weak earnings statements from retailers and reports of massive layoffs from
added to the selling pressure.
Financials continued to look weak as the new session arrived. Asset manager
joined the set of companies to announce layoffs by announcing its first round of job cuts in its 20-year history, according to a report by
As financial firms slim down in an effort to stem damage from the credit crisis,
Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson are set to appear before Congress to discuss their $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, which was designed to bolster liquidity for banks with stressed balance sheets.
The automakers, also lately on the ropes, were once again on investors' radar, as
was reducing its stake in the Japanese company to 13% from 33%. Ford, along with
, are facing mounting cash-flow problems on declining vehicle sales, credit crunch-related financing troubles and substantial legacy costs.
Looking at the day's earnings, hardware store operator
announced earnings that fell 31% year over year on declining revenue. Fashion retailer
swung to a third-quarter loss.
Shifting to economic data, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that producer prices fell by a record 2.8% in October. Economists were expecting a decline of 1.8%. The core rate
increased by 0.4%, above expectations for a 0.1% uptick.
As for commodities, crude oil was adding 20 cents to $55.15 a barrel. Gold was losing $7.70 at $734.30 an ounce.
Longer-dated U.S. Treasury securities were rising in price. The 10-year note was adding 3/32 to yield 3.64%. The 30-year was up 6/32, yielding 4.18%. The dollar was flat vs. the euro, gaining on the pound and declining against the yen.
Overseas, European exchanges such as the FTSE in London and the DAX in Frankfurt were trading lower. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei and Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed with losses.