Stocks: 4 things to know before the open

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Oil continues to fall Tuesday, and that's keeping stock markets in check.

Here are the four things you need to know before the opening bell rings in New York:

1. Oil prices keep sliding: U.S. crude futures are down another 3% this morning, trading at roughly $44.50 per barrel. Oil prices fell by more than 5% on Monday.

The price of crude has more than halved over the past few months, piling pressure on the oil industry and many producer nations.

2. Stocks seem stuck: U.S. stock futures are little changed, although there's a slight positive bias in the markets.

Over the previous trading session, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 97 points, while the S&P 500 fell 0.8% and the Nasdaq slid 0.8%.

European markets are edging lower in early trading, though the moves are modest. Asian markets ended with mixed results.

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3. Welcome news from China: New data from China shows the country's exports rose by 9.9% in December, compared to the previous year. That's better than economists were expecting.

The Shanghai Composite edged up 0.2%, after falling sharply for three consecutive sessions.

4. Earnings: Shares in Alcoa (AA) are expected to jump at the open after the aluminum producer's quarterly results beat expectations.

Home builder KB Home (KBH) will report earnings before the opening bell.

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