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Stock Futures Signal Sluggish Open

Markets overseas are mixed. Visa is an early decliner.
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Investors remained on edge early Tuesday as they dealt with another installment of uneven earnings reports ahead of the

Federal Reserve's

two-day meeting.

S&P 500

futures were losing 3.5 points to 1394 and were more than 3 points below fair value. Futures on the Nasdaq 100 were down 6.5 points to 1920 and were more than 9 points below fair value.

Last time out, stocks went out little changed as investors held back ahead of the Fed gathering and digested a round of merger-related news. At the end of the day, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

lost 20 points to 12,872, and the S&P 500 gave up about a point at 1396. The

Nasdaq Composite

was down roughly a point to 2424.

After the prior close, the newly public


(V) - Get Visa Inc. Report

said first-quarter earnings jumped 27.6% on an increase revenue, which on an adjusted basis topped the average Wall Street estimate. Despite this, as well as positive initial ratings from SunTrust and Wachovia, investors took down shares by 5%.

Elsewhere in the financial space, Germany's

Deutsche Bank

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(DB) - Get Deutsche Bank AG Report

reported that $4.2 billion in first-quarter writedowns have led its first quarterly loss in five years. Also, German insurance giant



said it will probably be forced to write off $1.4 billion in bad assets, which will contribute to pulling its profit down 66% from a year earlier and make its medium-term goals "harder" to achieve.

Oil companies were flush with positive news, however, as the recent crude-futures climb fattened first-quarter results.

Royal Dutch Shell


said its first-quarter profit ballooned 25% to $9.08 billion, and


(BP) - Get BP p.l.c. Report

reported a 63% surge in earnings to $7.6 billion.

Meanwhile, the Fed will begin its two-day meeting, which is widely expected to yield a 25-basis-point cut of the fed funds target rate on Wednesday. The overnight lending rate, which currently stands at 2.25%, has been brought down by 300 basis points over the past few months, and many observers have predicted that the upcoming decision will mark a pause in that easing cycle.

On the economic docket, the Conference Board is due to release consumer-confidence numbers at 10 a.m. EDT.

Commodity prices were backing off. Crude oil shed 74 cents to $118.01 a barrel, and gold futures slid $6.70 to $888.80.

Treasury prices were edging higher. The 10-year note was up 2/32 in price to yield 3.82%, and the 30-year bond added 5/32 in price, yielding 4.55%.

Overseas markets were mixed. In Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 rose 0.2% overnight to 13,894, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index climbed 1%. Among European exchanges, the FTSE 100 in London tacked on 0.4%. Germany's Xetra Dax and the Paris Cac, however, were off 0.6% and 0.4%, respectively.