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Dow futures came under pressure after Monday's surge as shares of blue chip Hewlett-Packard plunged and traders mulled other corporate news and economic data.
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As of 8:35 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 12 points to 12726, S&P 500 futures rose 0.5 point to 1383 and Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 2.8 points to 2588.
The Dow and S&P 500 both had their best day since September on Monday, while the Nasdaq posted its best performance on a percent basis since July. The gains were driven by optimism lawmakers will come to a budget solution ahead of the fiscal cliff and a round of solid data on the housing market.
The focus has shifted somewhat to corporate news and world economy on the day.
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) revealed an $8.8 billion charge in its fiscal fourth quarter related to its acquisition of software company Autonomy. More than $5 billion of that charge was linked to "serious accounting improprieties, misrepresentation and disclosure failures discovered by an internal investigation by H-P." H-P said in a statement that it has referred the matter to securities regulators in the U.S. and U.K.
Still, on an adjusted basis, H-P's quarterly profits came in ahead of expectations. Revenues, however, were shy of Wall Street's view. Shares tumbled more than 10% in early trading.
Also on the corporate front, Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) posted a fiscal third-quarter profit of three cents a share, far below estimates of 12 cents. The technology retailer’s sales of $10.75 billion came in slightly above expectations of $10.73 billion.
In European news, Moody's Investors Service sliced France's credit rating to 'Aa1' from 'Aaa,' serving as a reminder that even the eurozone's biggest economies aren't immune to the bloc's debt crisis.
On the economic calendar, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is expected to address the New York Economics Club shortly after noon ET. Economists will be looking for clues on what measures the central bank may take when 'Operation Twist' ends and new communications strategies for monetary policy. Chairman Bernanke's remarks often move the market.
U.S. housing starts rose 3.6% in October to an 894,000-unit rate, well above estimates of an 840,000-unit rate and marking the highest pace since July 2008. Housing permits fell 2.7% to an 866,000-unit rate, slightly ahead of estimates of an 865,000-unit rate.
Commodities markets were lightly changed. The benchmark crude oil contract slipped 37 cents, or 0.41%, to $88.91 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline slumped 0.58% to $2.739 a gallon. Gold slipped 60 cents, or 0.03%, to $1,734 a troy ounce.
The Euro Stoxx 50 dipped 0.32% to 2487, the English FTSE 100 slipped 0.19% to 5727 and the German DAX rose 0.06% to 7128.
In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 fell 0.12% to 9143 and the Chinese Hang Seng edged lower by 0.16% to 21228.