U.S. stocks: Futures rise after Merck, Pfizer results

London (July 29)   U.S. stock futures rose Tuesday, following better-than-expected quarterly results from drug makers including Merck &

Investors are next set to assess reports that may show some slowing in U.S. housing prices and confidence among U.S. consumers.

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Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average    DJU4 +0.07%    climbed 30 points to 16,946, while those for the S&P 500 index  SPU4 +0.13%   picked up 3 points at 1,976. The Nasdaq 100 index  NDU4 -0.13%    moved up 7 points to 3,967. Read more in Need to Know for Tuesday: Why short sellers are winners for 2014 so far .

A snapshot of consumer confidence from the Conference Board is due at 10 a.m. Eastern . The reading is expected to fall to 85.0 in July, after a jump in June to the index’s highest level in six and a half years. Confidence still remains well below pre-recession levels.

On tap at 9 a.m. Eastern is the Case-Shiller home price index for May, and that’s likely to show the cost of buying a home has tapered off after a significant runup last year.

Data released Monday showed pending U.S. homes sales fell 1.1% in June, the first decline in four months. That report “confirmed Fed Chair Yellen’s remarks before the Senate Banking committee earlier this month about the overall slowdown in the housing sector,” wrote Marshall Gittler, head of global FX strategy at IronFX, on Tuesday.

Yellen will lead monetary policy makers in their two-day meeting that begins Tuesday afternoon.

Ahead of the opening bell, shares of Merck & Co.  MRK +0.66%     — a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average  DJIA +0.13%    — rose 1% in premarket trade after the drug maker’s adjusted earnings and sales surpassed expectations.

Shares of fellow Dow component Pfizer Inc.  PFE +0.30%    gained 1.3% after the pharmaceutical company’s second-quarter results came in ahead of Wall Street’s targets.

Aetna  AET +0.01%    gained nearly 5% premarket after the health insurer raised its 2014 operating earnings projection based on improvement in second-quarter results from the year-earlier period.

Logistics company United Parcel Service Inc.  UPS -3.12%    is forecast to report $1.25 a share in earnings on sales of $14.12 billion.

Stock in Herbalife Ltd.  HLF -11.17%    fell 11% ahead of the open, extending losses from late Monday when the nutritional supplements marketer posted quarterly results that missed Wall Street’s targets.

Investors will also keep watch for any update about further  sanctions that may be imposed against Russia by the European Union related to its conflict with Ukraine.

After the regular session ends, Twitter Inc.  TWTR +1.24%    is slated to release second-quarter results.

In Asia, most major stock markets ended higher, with Japan’s Nikkei Average  JP:NIK +0.57%    up 0.6%. In Europe, the U.K.’s FTSE 100  UK:UKX +0.47%    edged higher on upbeat earnings reports.

Oil prices  CLU4 -0.54%    turned slightly lower, while gold  GCU4 +0.31%     rose nearly $5. The U.S. dollar index  DXY +0.08%   , which measures the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, rose to 81.061 from 81.025 on Monday.

Source: MarketWatch