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Stocks poised for mixed open

Stock futures mixed; markets set for uncertain open after their worst pummeling in years, government to release inflation report.

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By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Stock were poised for a mixed start on Tuesday, after suffering their worst pounding in seven years day before.

About three hours before the market open, futures for the S&P 500 and Dow were down, while Nasdaq futures were up.

On Monday the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 504 points, or 4.4%, its worst performance since the post-terrorist attack sell-off of Sept. 17, 2001.

The seven-year plunge stemmed from several big events that hit the markets at once: Lehman Brothers (LEH, Fortune 500) filed the biggest bankruptcy in history, Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) said it would buy Merrill Lynch (MER, Fortune 500) and AIG's (AIG, Fortune 500) stock took a dive over its cash-raising troubles.

Economy: Inflation will be on investors' minds Tuesday. At 8:30 a.m ET, the Labor Department will release the monthly Consumer Price Index report, a measure of a fixed basket of goods and services. A consensus of analysts expects that the CPI slipped 0.1% in August, compared to a gain of 0.8% in July.

The Labor Department will also announce core CPI, which removes volatile fuel and food prices. A consensus of analysts expects prices to have edged up 0.2% in August, compared to a gain of 0.3% the prior month.

Markets: Oil continued to trade below $100 a barrel on Tuesday. About three hours before the open, oil prices fell $2.78 a barrel to $92.93. European and Asian markets dropped on concerns over U.S. market turmoil. The U.S. dollar gained versus the euro and the British pound but fell against the yen. To top of page

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