Stocks set to open higher ahead of data

U.S. stock futures were higher Tuesday morning, indicating Wall Street is poised for a higher open on the last trading day of the quarter. Still, markets are likely to finish the quarter with double-digit losses. After Monday's steep declines on auto sector woes, today investors will focus on data and the upcoming G-20 meeting attended by President Obama.

A slew of data is due today:
  • March Consumer Confidence, due at 9:00 AM, is actually expected to inrease compared to February
  • January S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, also due at 9:00 AM, is expected to decline 18.6 percent
  • March Chicago PMI, which is a Chicago-area manufacturing gauge due at 9:45 AM, also is expected to show slight improvement.

Overseas, Asian markets were mixed Tuesday amid continued low expectations for the summit of G-20 leaders and gloomy forecasts the region would continue to struggle as the global economy flounders. European markets rose in early trade. Japan's Prime Minister Taro Aso said the government has yet to complete a stimulus plan to revive the economy. Investors were hoping for the plan to be unveiled today.

The Asian Development Bank slashed its 2009 growth forecast for the region's developing economies due to plunging exports. Meanwhile, an Australia central banker said the country's economy would shrink this year.

Oil prices edged up Tuesday but remained below $50 a barrel on demand concerns as there were renewed jitters over the global economy, sparked by U.S. auto sector concerns.

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