NEW YORK -
Stock index futures were flat on Tuesday as investors held back from making large bets ahead of an onslaught of corporate earnings and after recently notching five-year highs.
Both the Dow and S&P 500 closed at their highest levels the earnings season. U.S. markets were closed on Monday for a public holiday.
Despite stronger-than-expected earnings results from major companies, including big banks, at the start of the quarterly reporting season, many investors are worried that other reports will reflect economic uncertainty in the fourth quarter.
"The market has been pleased with earnings thus far, and it is encouraging to see a cyclical company like DuPont show revenue strength, but I'm waiting on more tech and energy earnings until I come down one way or the other on this season," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital in New York.
Verizon Communications Inc
DuPont, Verizon and Travelers are all Dow components, as is Johnson & Johnson
Overall, S&P 500 fourth-quarter earnings are forecast to have risen 2.5 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data. That estimate is above the 1.9 percent forecast from a week ago but well below the 9.9 percent fourth-quarter earnings forecast from October 1, the data showed.
S&P 500 futures rose 0.3 point but remained below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 8 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 5 points.
Monday was a market holiday for Martin Luther King Day in the United States, and also marked the start of a second term for President Barack Obama, who called for aggressive action on climate change, economic equality and the federal budget.
"It remains a question whether Obama will be able to deliver on his agenda, but a sector like solar power companies could continue to be strong as he pushes for action," Sarhan said.
Markets have recently been pressured by uncertainty stemming from Washington about the federal debt limit and spending cuts that could hamper U.S. growth.
Republican leaders in the House of Representatives said they aim to pass on Wednesday a nearly four-month extension of the U.S. debt limit, allowing the government to borrow enough to meet its obligations during that period.
U.S. shares of Research in Motion
The Dow and S&P 500 closed at five-year highs on Friday as the market registered a third straight week of gains on a solid start to the quarterly earnings season, including from Morgan Stanley
(Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)