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Light trading ahead for stocks

@CNNMoneyInvest April 3, 2012: 7:49 AM ET

Click the chart for more premarket data.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks were poised to open slightly lower Tuesday, with a potentially choppy day of trading ahead on a quiet week for investors.

Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures were down. Stock futures indicate the possible direction of the markets when they open at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Investors will have some new economic data to digest Tuesday, with reports on auto sales, factory orders and the latest Fed minutes scheduled for release.

But market participants expect the markets to stay mostly quiet this week ahead of the Easter holiday, and with the next round of major corporate results still a few weeks away.

U.S. stocks ended higher Monday after a manufacturing report showed prices rising less than expected, signaling that inflation may not be a near-term concern. Last week saw several disappointing reports on housing and durable goods, which caused investors to pull back a bit.

Prior to that, stocks had largely been on a tear, with the Dow and S&P 500 ending their best first quarter in over a decade. The Nasdaq had its best first quarter since 1991.

Much attention will be paid later this week to the all-important jobs report for March, which is due out Friday. However, U.S. stock markets will be closed in observance of Good Friday, and bond markets will close early.

World markets: European stocks were slightly lower in midday trading. Britain's FTSE 100 (UKX) slid 0.2%, the DAX (DAX) in Germany shed 0.1% and France's CAC 40 (CAC40) lost 0.5%.

Asian markets ended mixed. The Hang Seng (HSI) in Hong Kong gained 1.3%, while Japan's Nikkei (N225) fell 0.6%. The Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) was closed for early April's Tomb Sweeping holiday.

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Economy: A report on factory orders for the month of February is expected to show that activity picked up by 1.4%, after falling by 1% the previous month.

On Tuesday afternoon, investors will get some insight into the Federal Reserve's policy-making crystal ball, when the central bank releases minutes from its most recent meeting.

Auto and truck sales figures will be released throughout the day.

Companies: Avon Products (AVP, Fortune 500) shares were up 1.3% in pre-market trading Tuesday, following on gains of more than 17% Monday, after the company rejected a $10 billion purchase offer from beauty company Coty Inc.

Shares of automakers Ford (F, Fortune 500) and GM (GM, Fortune 500) could be on the move Tuesday based on the latest vehicle sales figures.

Muddy Waters: Tread carefully in Hong Kong

Daily deals site Groupon (GRPN) also remains in the spotlight following a report in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal saying that the Securities and Exchange Commission is probing its revision of its first set of results as a publicly traded company.

Groupon shares fell nearly 17% Monday after the company announced late Friday that it was revising its fourth-quarter income and sales lower, thanks to a higher rate of customers asking for refunds. Groupon also revealed that its auditor had discovered a deficiency in its financial statement close process, which covers the steps companies go through at the end of each quarter to ensure that all of their financial transactions have been accurately recorded and reported.

Make Europe's pain your gain

Currencies and commodities: The dollar fell against the euro and the Japanese yen but gained slightly against the British pound.

Oil for May delivery slipped 89 cents to $104.34 a barrel.

Gold futures for April delivery fell $3.00 to $1,674.50 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury rose Tuesday, pushing the yield down to 2.17%. To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 25,792.86 -10.33 -0.04%
Nasdaq 7,224.00 -37.00 -0.51%
S&P 500 2,776.42 -9.82 -0.35%
Treasuries 2.54 -0.01 -0.31%
Data as of 4:37pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
General Electric Co 18.21 -0.55 -2.93%
Bank of America Corp... 31.24 0.05 0.16%
Ford Motor Co 13.10 -0.13 -0.98%
Merck & Co Inc 62.07 3.41 5.81%
Advanced Micro Devic... 11.91 -0.11 -0.92%
Data as of 4:15pm ET
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.96%3.89%
15 yr fixed3.30%3.24%
5/1 ARM3.84%3.83%
30 yr refi3.94%3.86%
15 yr refi3.27%3.22%
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