Stocks: All eyes on earnings

premarket, stocksClick here for market data By CNNMoney staff

NEW YORK(CNNMoney) -- Investors were a little more confident Tuesday, following the previous session's sell-off, with U.S. stocks headed for a higher open.

Goldman Sachs and Johnson & Johnson both reported solid quarterly results before the opening bell. Investors were also waiting for housing starts and building permits reports.

Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures were slightly higher ahead of the opening bell. Futures measure current index values against perceived future performance.

"We had the biggest sell-off in a month yesterday, so usually after a sell-off like that we see some buying come back into the market," said Derek Hoffman, chief executive and founder of Wall St. Cheat Sheet.

Stocks cut some losses late Monday, but still finished the session sharply lower after Standard and Poor's cut its long-term outlook on U.S. debt to negative.

Economy: The Commerce Department announced that housing starts and building permits increased in March.

Housings starts jumped 7.2% to an annual rate of 549,000 in March while building permits climbed 11.2% to a rate of 594,000. Economists had expected a rate of 520,000 housing starts in March and 540,000 building permits, according to a consensus compiled by

Companies: Shares of Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500) rose 1.5% after the firm reported a 21% drop in net income to $2.7 billion and said it sees "encouraging indications" for global economic activity.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ, Fortune 500) reported better-than-expected earnings and sales. The healthcare company, which has been plagued by recalls and lawsuits, has also been quietly growing its business. Shares rose more than 2% premarket.

After the market close Monday, Texas Instruments (TXN, Fortune 500) reported first-quarter earnings that missed analysts' estimates, saying the earthquake in Japan impacted consumer demand and production during the quarter. Shares of Texas Instruments fell 2.3% in premarket trading.

After the bell Tuesday, technology giants Intel (INTC, Fortune 500) and IBM (IBM, Fortune 500) will report their results. Analysts are looking for Intel to earn 46 cents a share, while IBM is expected to post earnings of $2.30 a share.

Yahoo (YHOO, Fortune 500) will also reporting earnings after the bell Tuesday.

On Monday, real estate site Zillow and Chinese social networking company Renren each filed for initial public offerings.

World markets: European stocks rose in morning trading. Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.7%, the DAX in Germany added 0.5% and France's CAC 40 advanced 0.7%.

Asian markets ended the session sharply lower, as foreign investors reacted to S&P downgrading the United States' credit outlook. The Shanghai Composite dropped 1.9%, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong tumbled 1.3%, and Japan's Nikkei fell 1.2%.

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

Oil for May delivery slipped 75 cents to $106.37 a barrel. Oil for June delivery, which becomes the active contract Wednesday, fell 1% to $106.68 a barrel.

Gold futures for June delivery rose $3 to $1495.90 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury rose, pushing the yield down to 3.4% from 3.41% late Monday.  To top of page

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