Stocks were lower early Tuesday as a three-day skid sparked by a selloff in the bond market threatened to get worse. Index futures recently showed the S&P 500 trading about 3 points below fair value, while the Nasdaq 100 was set for a 4-point decline. The 10-year Treasury bond was down 5/32 in price to yield 4.77% -- just 2 points below the two-year note -- while the dollar rose against the yen and euro. The selling in stocks has been slow but steady. Since last Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen 96 points, or 0.8%, while the S&P 500 is off 13 points, or 1%. The Nasdaq Composite has fallen 29 points, or 1.3%, over the last three sessions. The weakness has been blamed bond yields, which have risen to their highest point since June 2004, the month the Federal Reserve initiated its current rate-tightening campaign. Ironically, signs of economic strength have driven the current uptick in yields, as traders prepare for two and maybe three more hikes in fed funds. Inflation fears could be further stoked by Tuesday's main economic report, which is expected to show fourth-quarter productivity revised to negative 0.1% amid rising labor costs. In other markets Tuesday, oil firmed as traders coped with a slew of overseas catalysts, including an OPEC meeting this week and an International Atomic Energy Agency review of Iran's nuclear program. In electronic Nymex trading, April crude rose 28 cents to $62.69 a barrel. Overseas markets were mixed, with London's FTSE 100 recently falling 0.9% to 5847 while Germany's Xetra DAX added 0.6% to 5754. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei fell 1.1% overnight to 15,726, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 1.3% to 15,602. Among companies, Texas Instruments ( TXN) raised the low end of its first-quarter earnings guidance, citing strong sales of communications chips. The company expects to earn 31 cents to 32 cents a share in the period, up from its old estimate of 29 cents to 33 cents. The midpoint of its revenue range went from $3.24 billion to $3.28 billion. To view David Peltier's video take on today's premarket action,
click here .
Altera ( ALTR) and Xilinx ( XLNX) both reaffirmed their own profit guidance after the bell Monday. Cablevision's ( CVC) once-shelved plan to pay a multibillion-dollar special dividend are apparently back on. The company said in a regulatory filing Monday that it's working to satisfy legal standards and establish record and pay dates on a $3 billion special payout to shareholders. The company dropped a similar plan in December but speculation had grown that the dividend would be revived after the company nailed down a credit line. Google ( GOOG) reportedly is working on a project to offer centralized computer storage to consumers. The initiative reportedly was outlined in a document inadvertently released on the Web, The Wall Street Journal reported. Google's plan is viewed as a way of deemphasizing PC hard drives and thus challenge the importance of Microsoft ( MSFT).