* S&P 500 ends eight-day rally, but stays above 1,500
* Ford, Pfizer up in premarket after posting results
* Consumer confidence, Case/Shiller data on tap
* Futures down: Dow 30 pts, S&P 5.2 pts, Nasdaq 9.5 pts
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Jan 29 U.S. stock index futures edged
lower on Tuesday as investors took profits following an extended
rally and waited for earnings and data on consumer confidence
Equities have been on a tear lately, with the S&P 500 ending
an eight-day streak of gains in Monday's session. The index
remained above 1,500, suggesting there was still support for a
market that has been hovering around five-year highs.
"We need to slow down and digest the huge move we've had, so
it makes sense futures are weak this morning, though it is also
encouraging that we're still strong enough to stay above 1,500,"
said Christian Wagner, chief executive officer at Longview
Capital Management in Wilmington, Delaware.
The gains have largely come on a strong start to earnings
season and that trend continued on Tuesday, with positive
results from both Ford Motor Co and Pfizer Inc.
Pfizer, a Dow component, posted fourth-quarter earnings that
topped expectations, sending shares up 0.6 percent to $26.95.
Eli Lilly and Co, a peer pharmaceutical company, rose
1.6 percent to $53.50 after it also reported adjusted
fourth-quarter earnings and revenue that beat expectations.
Ford also posted earnings that topped consensus views, but
the stock was volatile in premarket trading fluctuating from
rise to loss. The second-largest car company forecast a wider
loss in its European segment because of weakness in that region.
After climbing more than 4 percent before the bell, it turned
lower to fall 2 percent to $13.50.
"We've had some cross-currents on earnings, with both
strength and weakness, and that's another reason we need some
affirmation the upside will continue from here," said Wagner.
Yahoo Inc rose 1.9 percent to $20.70 in premarket
trading a day after reporting adjusted earnings that beat
expectations and forecasting a rise in annual revenue.
Thomson Reuters data showed that of the 150 companies in the
S&P 500 that have reported earnings so far, 67.3 percent have
beaten analysts' expectations, which is a higher proportion than
over the past four quarters and above the average since 1994.
S&P 500 futures fell 5.2 points and were 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 30
points and Nasdaq 100 futures slid 9.5 points.
The Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee begins two days
of meetings on interest rates. Traders speculated more solid
U.S. growth indicators might see the Fed pull back on its
aggressive easing stimulus, which has played a key role in
fuelling an equity market rally since the second half of last
In a sign of the improved view towards equities, investors
poured $55 billion in new cash into stock mutual funds and
exchange-traded funds in January, the biggest monthly inflow on
record, research provider TrimTabs Investment Research said.
Still, market participants will look to the latest economic
data for evidence the recent rally was justified.
January consumer confidence, due at 10 a.m. (1500 GMT) is
seen dipping to 64 from 65.1 in the previous month. The S&P
Case/Shiller Home Price Index for November is seen showing an
increase of 0.6 percent in home prices. Case/Shiller is due at 9
While the housing market has recently shown signs of
improvement, data released on Monday showed pending home sales
unexpectedly slumped in December.
U.S. stocks edged modestly lower on Monday. However,
Caterpillar Inc rallied after results, limiting losses
in the Dow, while a rebound in shares of Apple Inc kept
the Nasdaq in positive territory.