Market Hustle: Stock Futures Mixed as Cautious Tone Continues Ahead of Earnings

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stock futures were mixed Tuesday, continuing a cautious tone ahead of first-quarter earnings season as investors dump momentum stocks for cheaper, value companies.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were inching up 5.13 over fair value to 16,172.0 while futures for the S&P 500 were 0.44 below fair value to 1,837.5. Futures for the Nasdaq were rising 3.75 over fair value to 3,503.0.

  • Industrial bellwether Alcoa (AA) leads earnings season kickoff, publishing its results after market closes Tuesday. It is expected to post earnings of 5 cents a share on revenue of $5.57 billion and was raised to hold from sell by Deutsche Bank on Monday. Profit expectations have been slashed for first-quarter earnings given the impact of a severe winter.
  • The Bank of Japan decided not to expand its monetary stimulus program on Tuesday, as expected, despite facing a sales tax hike and slumping equity market. The central bank voted unanimously after its policy meeting to maintain stimulus at an annual pace of 60 trillion to 70 trillion yen ($589 million to $687 billion). The BOJ said business sentiment was improving though some companies are cautious on the outlook.
  • In international markets, the Hang Seng closed 0.98% higher while the Nikkei slumped 1.36% after failing to receive additional stimulus. Germany's DAX was falling 0.91% while the FTSE was off 0.99%. U.K. industrial production rose more than forecast in February by 0.9% due to a surge in factory output.
  • In other news, pro-Russian protesters have seized government buildings in eastern Ukraine, prompting the nation to send in additional police forces. Russia called on Ukraine to stop all military preparations or risk civil war.
  • The International Monetary Fund's twice yearly meeting convenes in Washington Tuesday, with the body expected to boost its global growth estimates as developed economies continue their recovery. 
  • Markets closed lower on Monday, fueled by an ongoing selloff in the technology and biotech sectors. There are no significant economic releases due Tuesday.
  • Wrapping up prior earnings seasons, SAIC (SAIC) is slated to post fourth-quarter earnings of 67 cents a share while WD-40 (WDFC) is expected to post fiscal second-quarter earnings of 68 cents a share. Citigroup (C) is cautioning that it may miss its tangible common equity target for 2015 after the Federal Reserve last month rejected its capital plan. Nokia (NOK) has gained Chinese government approval for the sale of its mobile handset business to Microsoft (MSFT) for $7.4 billion, a deal the company expects to close this month.

-- By Jane Searle in New York

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