Stocks Lower Ahead of Data

GDP, consumer confidence and existing homes are on tap.
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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 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 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 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 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 Report



(SINA) - Get Report

at sector perform and


(BIDU) - Get Report

at underperform. CIBC cited valuation in the Baidu rating.