Stock futures point to lower Wall Street open

Stock index futures are pointing toward a lower start on Wall Street as investors show a little more caution after the market's huge two-week rally.

Investors appear ready to follow their counterparts overseas, where markets declined on mixed corporate earnings.

Wall Street is waiting for a stream of earnings reports over the next three days. And later Tuesday, they'll get readings on home prices and consumer confidence.

The Conference Board's consumer confidence report is expected to show Americans remain worried about current economic conditions and the rise in unemployment. Consumers are critical to the economic recovery because their spending accounts for more than two-thirds of all economic activity.

Like consumer confidence, investors are also closely monitoring the housing market for signs of stability and look forward to a reading on home prices in major metropolitan markets to be released today.

Moderating declines in prices could add support to the sector after recent sales figures data showed increased activity.

Mixed earnings results were also tempering investors' recent optimism. Media conglomerate ViacomVIA said its second-quarter profit fell 32%. However, excluding a special charge tied to severance costs, earnings totaled 49 cents a share, a penny better than analyst expectations.

Independent oil refiner Valero Energy VLO recorded a second-quarter loss amid weak demand and narrowing margins. Despite the loss of 50 cents a share, Valero did beat analysts expectations by 2 cents per share. Revenue, which fell 51% to $17.9 billion, also topped projections.

Later in the week, companies including VisaV, Colgate-Palmolive CL and Dow ChemicalDOW are scheduled to report second-quarter results.

On Monday, stocks posted small gains after investors grappled with mixed earnings and economic reports.

Investors balanced disappointing earnings results from Verizon CommunicationsVZ, AetnaAET and CorningGLW against a report that showed new homes sales volume surged in June at the fastest rate in more than eight years.

While the Dow rose just 15.27, or 0.2%, to 9,108.51, it was the first time the index closed above 9,100 since Nov. 5. The slight gains come after a two-week surge that saw major indexes jump about 11%.

Bond prices were mixed Tuesday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 3.86% from 3.73% late Monday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, rose to 0.19% from 0.18% late Monday.

The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices fell.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 0.01%. In afternoon trading, Britain's FTSE 100 declined 0.7%, Germany's DAX index fell 0.3%, and France's CAC-40 declined 0.3%.

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