US futures trim early gains on durable goods drop

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NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stock futures trimmed early gains Tuesday after a report showed weaker-than-expected orders for long-lasting products.

The Commerce Department said January orders for durable goods fell by a steeper-than-expected 4 percent. Economists expected a 1 percent drop. The report said businesses spent less on machinery and equipment in January after a tax break expired, pushing the measure down by the largest amount in three years.

Demand for capital goods that are considered an indicator of business investment spiked to an all-time high in December as companies moved to take advantage of the tax break.

Dow Jones industrial average futures are down 1 point at 12,698, while Standard & Poor's 500 futures are up 0.9 points at 1,368.20. Nasdaq composite index futures added 3.5 points to 2,611.50.

Traders will also be watching the consumer confidence report due out at 10 a.m. The index of consumer sentiment prepared by the private business group the Conference Board is expected to rise modestly.

In Europe, major indexes also turned down after trading higher following a modest dip in oil prices. Oil shot up in recent weeks over concern about conflict revolving around Iran's nuclear program, but the gains were tempered by a report showing weaker demand in Asia.

Some analysts also pointed to the possibility of a release of reserves by the International Energy Agency or the U.S. to help quell the spike in oil, which topped $109 a barrel Friday to close at their highest point since May.

Germany's DAX is down 0.41 percent at 6,821.63, while France's CAC 40 is down 0.26 percent to 3,432.59. Britain's FTSE 100 edged down 0.33 percent to 5,915.55.

Earlier in Asia, the Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo rose 0.9 percent to 9,722.52 -- its highest close since Aug. 2, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 1.7 percent to 21,568.73. Mainland Chinese shares were mixed, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index up 0.2 percent to 2,451.86, its highest close in more than three months.

U.S. stocks to watch in Tuesday's session include Hovnanian Enterprises. The homebuilder said first-quarter contracts climbed 27 percent, and strength continued into February. Its shares gained 3 percent in premarket trading.

Auto parts retailer AutoZone reported a 13 percent profit gain in its most recent quarter, sending shares up 3.3 percent in the premarket. And Domino's Pizza Inc. reported a 28 percent spike in fourth-quarter profit, sending shares up 4.4 percent ahead of the market opening.

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