(By Balachander) U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a modestly higher opening on the Wall Street ahead of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's congressional testimony as worries over political instability in Italy also weighed on the sentiment.
Mini Dow Industrial Average futures rose 27 points to 13,816. The Nasdaq futures added 3 points to 2,705.25. Standard and Poor's 500 futures gained 2.80 points to 1,490.
At 10 am ET, a report may show that new-home sales - which measures the annualized number of new single-family homes that were sold during the previous month - rose to 381,000 from 369,000. The Conference Board's consumer confidence survey is expected to show a reading of 61 in February from 58.6 in January.
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Around the same time, Bernanke will testify on the economic outlook and recent monetary policy actions before the Senate Banking Committee in Washington.
Another report may show that the S&P Case-Shiller house price index - a composite index of 20 metropolitan areas - rose 0.6 percent in December after a 0.6 percent increase in the prior month.
Other reports of economic interest due to be released over the week include: pending home sales, durable goods orders, jobless claims and Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing survey, personal income and spending and fourth quarter GDP data.
In other news, early poll results from Italy indicated a deadlock and possibility of another election, intensifying concerns the euro zone's debt crisis will worsen.
On Monday, U.S. stocks closed sharply lower, reversing early gains, weighed by uncertainty over the outcome of parliamentary elections in Italy after early poll results indicate a deadlock.
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In corporate news, Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) rose 2.1 percent in premarket after the home improvement retailer posted a 32 percent jump in quarterly earnings on higher sales. The company lifted its quarterly dividend by 34 percent to $0.39 cents per share.
Macy's Inc. (NYSE: M) jumped 4.15 percent in premarket after the apparel retailer issued an upbeat earnings forecast following better-than-expected fourth-quarter results.
AutoZone Inc. (NYSE: AZO), a retailer of automotive replacement parts, posted a 5.6 percent increase in quarterly earnings, helped by sales growth and improvement in margins. Bottom-line beat market expectations, while sales were slightly short of consensus. Shares fell 1.73 percent in premarket.
Autodesk Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK) lost 2.38 percent in premarket after the software provider issued first-quarter forecast that trailed market expectations.
MetroPCS Communications Inc. (NYSE: PCS) posted a decline in quarterly earnings, in line with market expectations, amid revenue growth and higher expenses.
VIVUS Inc. (NASDAQ: VVUS) tumbled 7.41 percent in premarket after the biopharmaceutical company reported a wider-than-expected loss for the fourth quarter.
European markets traded in red, with Germany's DAX slumping 1.55 percent to trade at 7,653.16. France's CAC40 declined 1.95 percent to trade at 3,648.86. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 tumbled 1.29 percent to trade at 6,273.30.
Asian markets ended sharply lower tracking global cues. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.40 percent to end at $2,293.34. Japan's Nikkei 225 lost 2.26 percent to end at 11,398.81. Hong Kong's Hang Seng retreated 1.32 percent to close at 22,519.69. India's Sensex closed at 19,015.14, down 1.64 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil futures traded 1.02 percent higher at $94.06 per barrel. Gold futures gained 1.16 percent to $1,591 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro rose 0.85 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.3306, while the British pound shed 0.17 percent to 1.5137. The dollar advanced 0.60 percent against the Japanese yen at 93.9800.