U.S. Stocks Headed for Lower Open

Futures track lower as traders await the Labor Department's release of its producer price index.
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Wall Street was headed for a lower open Tuesday as traders acted cautiously ahead of crucial inflationary data.

S&P 500

futures were losing 7 points to 1423 and were nearly 4 points under fair value. Futures on the Nasdaq 100 were down 8 points at 2017.5, and were nearly 3 points below fair value.

The sole report on the economic docket is the Labor Department's will release its producer price index, an important measure of inflation that tracks prices of goods at the wholesale level.

Before the opening bell,

Dow

component

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Report

said its

first-quarter profit

plunged by two-thirds to $356 million, or 21 cents a share, as the home-improvement goods retailer continued to suffer from housing-sector woes. Excluding a one-time charge related to store closings and paring back of store-growth plans, earnings came to a better-than-expected 41 cents a share. Shares were up fractionally in the premarket.

Last time out, stocks couldn't sustain a big afternoon rally following a better-than-expected report of leading economic indicators, and equity measures finished mixed amid a resurgence of oil prices.

All told, on Monday, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

added 41 points to 13,026, and the S&P 500 crept up 1 point to 1428. The

Nasdaq Composite

close down 13 points at 2516.

Back in corporate news, office-supplies retailer

Staples

(SPLS)

, meanwhile, said its profit picked up a bit to $212 million in the most recent quarter as the company benefited from its international exposure.

That came a day after Staples went hostile with its bid for Dutch-based

Corporate Express

, going straight to the company's shareholders with an offer of $2.34 billion (1.5 billion euros) as it claimed that Corporate was unwilling to negotiate a transaction.

Elsewhere, last night Standard & Poor's cut

Fannie Mae's

(FNM)

risk-to-the-government ranking, though the ratings agency upheld Fannie's ratings for senior unsecured debt, subordinated debt and preferred stock. Shares were down marginally in early trading.

Among commodities, crude oil was adding 23 cents to $127.28 a barrel, and gold futures were up 70 cents to $906.50 an ounce. The U.S. dollar fell 0.8% against the euro at $1.5640 while weakening by 0.3% against the yen to 104.04.

As for Treasury prices, the 10-year note and the 30-year bond were both flat to yield 3.83% and 4.57%, respectively.

Overseas markets were mostly losing ground. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 shed 0.8% overnight, and the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong sank 2.2%. In Europe, London's FTSE 100 was sliding 1.4%, and Germany's Xetra Dax gave up 0.9%. The Paris Cac was falling 1.2%.