Premarket futures were suggesting a flat open for stocks on Wall Street Tuesday as traders began to process a stack of fresh earnings statements along with the announcement of new writedowns from big financial firm

Merrill Lynch



Futures for the

S&P 500

were down a point at 1234, and were fractionally above fair value.


futures were down 4 points at 1810 and were 2 points ahead of fair value.

Last time out, the three major indices sold off steadily throughout the day as a series of mediocre earnings statements failed to counteract continuing fears about the health of the financial sector. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

and the Nasdaq both lost at least 2%, and the S&P dropped 1.9%.

Following the end of that session, Merrill Lynch announced that it would be

selling to an affiliate

$30.6 billion in collateralized-debt obligations for $6.7 billion. The company, which has in recent quarters been troubled by the tough-to-value assets, also said it will raise capital through a stock offering and take a $4.4 billion pretax charge-off in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, biotech company


(AMGN) - Get Report


earnings that beat expectations

, as did agricultural chemicals concern


(MOS) - Get Report


As the new trading day approaches, investors will receive financial results from another series of companies, including Dow component and automaker

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

and steel producer

U.S. Steel

(X) - Get Report


Among technology names, struggling telecommunications firm



reported a quarterly loss and announced the departure of chief executive Patricia Russo and chairman Serge Tchuruk.

Also offering bad news from the tech area, electronic goods manufacturer


(SNE) - Get Report

said its profit was cut in half from a year ago and lowered its 2008 forecast.

On the other hand, energy company


(BP) - Get Report

announced a 28% year-over-year increase in profit thanks to rising oil prices.

Coal company

Alpha Natural Resources


is also due to report this morning.

In food, fruit-and-vegetables purveyor

Fresh Del Monte Produce

(FDP) - Get Report

reported a 34% decline in second-quarter profit thanks to weather-related damage to its products.

Also on the schedule are defense firm

Northrop Grumman

(NOC) - Get Report

, athletic underwear company

Under Armour

(UA) - Get Report

and disposal business

Waste Management



As to commodities, crude oil was recently adding 60 cents to $125.33 a barrel, and gold was climbing $1 to $938.80.

On a day that is rather light in terms of economic data, the Conference Board will nonetheless release its July consumer confidence report later this morning.

Long-dated U.S. bonds were ticking downward. The 10-year Treasury note was off 2/32 to yield 4.01%, and the 30-year was down 4/32, yielding 4.61%. The dollar was gaining on the euro, the yen and the pound.

Across the seas, markets were widely selling off. Frankfurt's DAX, London's FTSE, Japan's Nikkei and Hong Kong's Hang Seng were all marking losses.