By Tomi Kilgore
U.S. stock futures were little changed Tuesday after major equity benchmarks posted gains for two consecutive sessions.
About 90 minutes ahead of the open, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures inched lower by one point, or less than 0.1%, to 16480.
S&P 500 index futures were virtually unchanged at 1882 and Nasdaq-100 futures ticked up one point, or less than 0.1%, to 3614. Changes in stock futures don't always accurately predict stock moves after the opening bell.
On Monday, the S&P 500 rose 0.4% to close within 0.7% of its May 13 record closing high of 1897.45. Activity continued to be muted, as Monday's NYSE composite volume was the third lowest full-day total of the year.
Small-capitalization stocks, which had been hit particularly hard the last couple of months, outperformed the large-cap S&P 500 on Monday for the second-straight session. The Russell 2000 small-cap index rose 1% Monday, but was still 8.5% below its March 4 record high.
On Tuesday, the iShares Russell 2000 exchange-traded fund inched fractionally lower in premarket trading.
Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Secutities, said investors want to see if the recent rebound in the Russell 2000 means the pullback in that index is over, or just pausing, and whether the S&P 500 and Dow can get back to new highs.
"We've got a cohort of investors who have gotten to a place where we don't know what the next move is," Mr. Hogan said. "We have a catalyst-light day. We need a reason to break the tie here."
There are no major economic releases scheduled Tuesday. Investors will be looking ahead to the minutes of the Federal Reserve's last policy meeting, to be released Wednesday, followed by data on jobless claims and sales of existing and new homes later in the week.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note ticked up to 2.545% from 2.536% late Monday.
Among early stock movers, Dow component Home Depot dropped 1.4% after the company's fiscal-first-quarter adjusted earnings and revenue fell shy of expectations, suggesting bad weather contributed to a slow start to the spring selling season. The home-improvement retailer said it plans to buy back $3.75 billion worth of its stock over the rest of the year.
Crude-oil futures edged up 0.2% to $102.30 a barrel, after settling Monday at a four-week high. Gold futures slipped 0.2% to $1,291.10 an ounce. The dollar nudged higher against the euro but eased slightly against the yen.
European markets also wavered, with the Stoxx Europe 600 trading just fractionally lower. The index is in danger of posting a fourth loss in five sessions since closing at a more than six-year high a week ago.
Germany's DAX 30 index gave up 0.1%, France's CAC 40 lost 0.3% and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 declined 0.5%.
Asian markets closed mostly higher. China's Shanghai Composite tacked on 0.1% and Japan's Nikkei Stock Average advanced 0.5%.
In other corporate news, Staples slumped 11% after the office-supplies retailer reported fiscal-first-quarter earnings that fell more than expected, and provided a current-quarter outlook that was below analyst projections.
Aeroflex Holding surged 26% after the U.K.'s Cobham said it would buy the U.S. wireless communications firm in a $1.46 billion deal.
Urban Outfitters shed 4.9% after the clothing and accessories retailer reported late Monday disappointing fiscal-first-quarter earnings, amid flat same-store sales and narrowing gross margin.
Write to Tomi Kilgore at firstname.lastname@example.org