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Stock futures strengthened Tuesday as oil continued to slide and traders bet on a strong reading on January retail sales.

Index futures recently showed the

S&P 500

trading 3 points above fair value, while the Nasdaq 100 was set for a 5-point rise. The 10-year Treasury bond was down 4/32 in price to yield 4.59% -- eight basis points below the two-year yield -- while the dollar fell against the yen and euro.

Oil fell, with the March crude contract recently losing 31 cents to $60.93 a barrel. The price is just 3 cents above where front-month crude ended the last session of 2005 and is down more than 10% since the end of January.

Overseas markets were mixed, with London's FTSE 100 recently falling 0.1% to 5790 and Germany's Xetra DAX losing 0.2% to 5743. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei rose 1.9% overnight to 16,185, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.7% to 15,420.

Tech names led a stock-market retreat on Monday, with the

Nasdaq Composite

falling 1% due in part to weakness in



. The


and S&P 500 both shed about 0.3% on the session.

Helping restore order Tuesday were bullish expectations ahead of the government's report on January retail sales, which is expected to show a gain of 0.9% after December's 0.7% rise. The redemption of holiday gift cards should drive the strong reading.

Ahead of the report, Citigroup upgraded shares of

Circuit City


to buy from hold and raised its price target to $30 from $23. The stock closed Monday at $24.33.

Another retail giant,



, said last weekend's Northeast snowstorm could lower its results for February. Target estimated same-store sales for the month will rise by 2.5% to 3.5%, down from its previous forecast for 2.5% to 4.5%.

Warner Music

said first-quarter earnings roughly doubled to $69 million, or 46 cents a share, including a charge for stock options. Revenue fell 4% from a year ago to $1.04 billion, slightly missing estimates.

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


Taiwan chip foundry

United Microelectronics


said fourth-quarter earnings rose 129% from a year ago to $94.1 million, boosted by strong pricing. Sales fell slightly to about $850 million but came in above estimates.



said its president and chief operating officer, Michael Neuman, has stepped down, with his duties being assumed by two other executives. The company didn't give a reason for the resignation.