March 20, 2012 / 9:08 AM / 6 years ago

Stock index futures point to lower open

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange March 15, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Stock markets pointed to a lower open on Wall Street on Tuesday, with futures for the S&P 500 down 0.3 percent, while Dow Jones and Nasdaq 100 futures were each off 0.2 percent at 0848 GMT.

Diary highlights include February housing starts data at 1230 GMT, a testimony on the international financial system by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at 1400 GMT and a lecture by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke at 1645 GMT. <MI/DIARY>

Earnings calendar features results from contract manufacturer Jabil Circuit (JBL.N), the world’s third-largest software maker Oracle ORCL.O, computer contractor SAIC SAI.N and jeweler Tiffany (TIF.N). <SP500/WK>

A much-anticipated budget plan due from Republicans in the House of Representatives includes sweeping tax reforms that cut rates and pare down individual income tax brackets to two from six.

World equity markets painted a mixed picture, with Japan’s Nikkei average rising for a fifth session .N225, while concerns about global growth and gloomy corporate news knocked 0.7 percent off the pan-European FTSE Eurofirst 300 .FTEU3.

On Monday, the S&P 500 .SPX extended its rally to climb within 10 percent of its record closing high set in October 2007, after Apple (AAPL.O) said it would pay a $10 billion annual dividend and buy back stock. The benchmark index closed up 0.4 percent at 1,409.75 points .INX.

Monday saw busy after the bell trading following a clutch of corporate news releases:

Fashion company Michael Kors (KORS.N) reported strong retail sales and raised its earnings outlook, sending its shares up 3 percent.

Bank of America (BAC.N) shares rose 1.8 percent after it said it has no intention of issuing additional equity in a secondary offering, contrary to rumors that may have lowered its stock price during afternoon trading.

Walt Disney (DIS.N) shares fell 1 percent after said it expects mega-budget science-fiction movie “John Carter” will lose about $200 million in the current quarter.

Adobe Systems (ADBE.O) shares dipped 4.4 percent following news revenue growth slowed as sales of its widely used Creative Suite software fell, missing its forecasts.

BHP Billiton (BHP.AX) (BLT.L), the world’s biggest miner, said it was seeing signs of “flattening” iron ore demand from China, reigniting concerns about global growth.

Reporting By Toni Vorobyova; Editing by Dan Lalor

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