(By Balachander) U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a flat open on the Wall Street amid concerns over whether lawmakers in Washington will be able to reach a deal to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff".
Mini Dow Industrial Average futures dipped 1.00 point to 12,949. The Nasdaq futures slid 2.00 points to 2,668. Standard and Poor's 500 futures lost 0.40 points to 1,406.70.
President Barack Obama has pushed for higher taxes on wealthy Americans to address the fiscal cliff of roughly $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases that could hit economic growth.
The White House rejected a "fiscal cliff" proposal from congressional Republicans. "The Republican letter released today does not meet the test of balance," The White House said in a statement on Monday. "In fact, it actually promises to lower rates for the wealthy and sticks the middle class with the bill."
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The U.S. economic calendar is light for the day.
On Monday, U.S. stocks ended in red weighed by a report that showed an unexpected contraction in U.S. manufacturing activity last month.
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In corporate news, Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE: DRI) tumbled 9.19 percent in premarket after the full-service restaurant company reduced its sales forecast for 2013. It also forecasts combined U.S. same-restaurant sales for the second quarter to fall roughly 2.7 percent at its three casual dining brands.
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Toll Brothers Inc. (NYSE: TOL) rose 3.92 percent in premarket after the builder of luxury homes posted a jump in quarterly earnings as a hefty tax benefit boosted results. Revenue surged 48 percent and margins expanded.
IAC/InterActiveCorp. (NASDAQ: IACI) lost 3.54 percent in premarket. Goldman Sachs (GS) downgraded its rating on the stock to "sell" from "neutral".
AutoZone Inc. (NYSE: AZO) shed 1.48 percent in premarket after the retailer of automotive replacement parts reported first-quarter sales that trailed market expectations.
Big Lots Inc. (NYSE: BIG) surged 12.02 percent in premarket after the North American closeout retailer posted its quarterly results and updated its forecast for the full year.
Pep Boys - Manny, Moe & Jack (NYSE: PBY) declined 6.27 percent in premarket after the automotive parts retailer posted quarterly results that missed Wall Street projections.
Vail Resorts Inc. (NYSE: MTN) retreated 6.88 percent in premarket after the company posted a wider quarterly loss and said it will be more difficult to achieve its guidance for growth in Resort Reported EBITDA for fiscal 2013, citing some of the most recent booking trends.
European markets traded in green, with Germany's DAX gaining 0.34 percent to trade at 7,460.35. France's CAC40 added 0.78 percent to trade at 3,594.56. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.05 percent to trade at 5,874.39.
Asian markets ended mixed, with China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index up 0.78 percent to finish at 1,975.14. Japan's Nikkei 225 fell0.27 percent to finish at 9,432.46. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index inched up 0.15 percent to end at 21,799.97. India's BSE Sensex ended at 19,348.12, up 0.22 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil futures retreated 0.83 percent to $88.35 per barrel. Gold futures declined 0.98 percent to $1,704.30 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro added 0.27 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.3089, and the British pound rose 0.17 percent to 1.6119. The dollar dropped 0.36 percent against the Japanese yen to 81.9500.