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Stocks Lower Ahead of Data

GDP, consumer confidence and existing homes are on tap.

Stocks ticked lower Tuesday as traders braced for economic news that could reinforce expectations about more

Federal Reserve

interest-rate hikes.

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 4/32 in price to yield 4.58% -- 14 basis points below the two-year yield -- while the dollar rose against the yen and euro.

Among a raft of economic data Tuesday is the first revision to the Commerce Department's estimate of fourth-quarter gross domestic product. Economists expect a reading of plus-1.6%, up from the advance peg of 1.1%. Other reports will chart factory purchasing, consumer confidence and pre-owned home sales.

Oil held steady after two volatile sessions, with April crude recently down 25 cents to $60.75 a barrel. An Energy Department update on U.S. storage inventories Wednesday is expected to show another decent build in crude stocks and declines in gasoline and distillates. Front-month crude swung in a 3% band on Friday and Monday.

Overseas markets are mixed, with London's FTSE 100 recently down 0.4% to 5853 and Germany's Xetra DAX up 0.8% to 5915. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei added 0.1% overnight to 16,205, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.2% to 15,918.

On Monday, a handful of utility mergers and oil's slide lifted the major averages, with the


rising 0.3% to 11,098, the S&P 500 adding 0.4% to 1294 and the

Nasdaq Composite

jumping 0.9% to 2307.

Dow component

General Motors

(GM) - Get Free Report

is in the news Tuesday, with the

Financial Times

reporting that the automaker wants its bankers to complete a deal for GMAC before a board meeting next Monday. A transaction for control of the financing arm could be worth more than $11.5 billion, the newspaper said.

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


In earnings news,

Universal Health Services

(UHS) - Get Free Report

said fourth-quarter profit fell 67% from a year ago to $12.3 million, or 23 cents a share, while adjusted earnings of 45 cents a share were 3 cents short of estimates.


(TEVA) - Get Free Report

fourth-quarter earnings rose 9% to $304.9 million, or 45 cents a share, beating estimates on strong sales of its brand-name and generic drugs. Sales rose 6% to $1.4 billion.


(WEN) - Get Free Report

disclosed details on the expected public sale of a stake in its Tim Hortons doughnut chain. The fast-food chain expects to sell 29 million shares of the subsidiary at $18 to $20 apiece. Goldman and RBC are lead underwriters on the deal.

Early research included a call on the Chinese Internet space from CIBC. The bank started


(SOHU) - Get Free Report



(SINA) - Get Free Report

at sector perform and


(BIDU) - Get Free Report

at underperform. CIBC cited valuation in the Baidu rating.