5 Things You Should Know Before the Stock Market Opens

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks looked set to open lower Tuesday a day after the S&P 500 gained 0.4% to finish at 1,409.75, its highest close since May 20, 2008.

European shares declined and Asian stock ended with losses because of growth concerns over China. Markets in Japan were closed for a national holiday.

The economic calendar in the U.S. Tuesday features data on chain-store sales at 7 a.m. EDT and housing starts and building permits for February at 8:30 a.m. Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, is looking for housing starts of 700,000.

Earnings on tap Tuesday include results from

Oracle ( ORCL), the database software giant, which is expected by analysts to earn 56 cents a share in its fiscal third quarter on revenue of $9.02 billion.

Tiffany ( TIF) reports earnings before the opening bell, and analysts expect the luxury retailer to earn $1.42 a share in the fourth quarter on revenue of $1.19 billion. Same-store sales are expected to rise 3.9%.

Goldman Sachs ( GS)has begun a new round of staff cuts in its trading and investment banking divisions, Reuters reported, citing three sources familiar with the matter.

Goldman eliminated 2,400 positions last year, and the sources said further reductions are possible as the company continues to reduce costs.

The investment bank's latest round of cuts is part of its annual employee review process.

House Republicans plan to release Tuesday an election-year budget plan, but the plan already is a nonstarter with Democrats controlling the Senate.

The House plan would trim individual income tax brackets to two from six, and impose cuts on many programs. The plan is expected to include politically sensitive curbs on Medicare, according to The Associated Press.

Mitt Romney would widen his lead in the Republican presidential race with a victory on Tuesday in Illinois.

Polls there show he has a comfortable edge over Rick Santorum, his closest rival.

Romney has secured more than double the number of delegates to the GOP nominating convention as Santorum.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Joseph Woelfel

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