Stocks: Economic data in focus

sp500 futures 845
Click on chart for more premarkets data.

Economic reports will be the prime focus for the stock market Tuesday, and so far they've had a lukewarm reception by investors.

U.S. stock futures were down slightly ahead of the opening bell.

U.S. retail sales rose 0.5% in December, which was better than expected but not an impressive jump. Retail sales were led by an improvement in auto sales.

Producer prices for December came in lower than expected, falling 0.2%. And the index measuring manufacturing activity in New York State came in negative for the six straight month in January, the New York Federal Reserve Bank reported.

The next scheduled economic report will come from the Census Bureau at 10 a.m. ET, when it will release data on business inventories for November.

Fear & Greed Index

Homebuilder Lennar (LEN) reported earnings that beat expectations, although shares fell 1% in premarket trading. Goldman Sachs (GS) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) will report results Wednesday, while Intel (INTC), Bank of America (BAC) and General Electric (GE)are due later in the week.

Overall, S&P 500 companies are expected to report earnings growth of 2.4% for the last three months of 2012, according to FactSet Research. Excluding the financial sector, however, growth for these firms is expected to be just 0.2%.

Dell (DELL) shares were up more than 4% in premarket trading, a day after reports that the computer maker could be taken private.

Related: Dell buoyed by buyout talk

Shares of Facebook (FB) were up 1% in anticipation of its mystery announcement, scheduled to take place at 1 p.m. ET at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.

U.S. stocks finished mostly flat Monday.

Overseas, European markets were mixed in morning trading, with the DAX slightly weaker. Germany's economy grew by just 0.7% in 2012, down from 3% the previous year, the government said Tuesday.

Asian markets also ended mixed. Japan's Nikkei advanced 0.7% after being closed Monday for a holiday. The Shanghai Composite added 0.6%, while the Hang Seng declined 0.1%.

CNNMoney Sponsors