Stock Futures Fall on Persistent Fiscal Cliff Worries

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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were generally pointing to a lower open on Wall Street Tuesday as U.S. investors remained on edge about talks over the so-called fiscal cliff and ahead of a batch of economic releases.

With the worries over U.S. budgetary talks persisting, U.S. investor sentiment didn't get much of a boost from the rally in overseas markets on positive aid news for Greece.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were falling 13 points, or 16.37 points below fair value, at 12,923. Futures for the S&P 500 were falling 1.80 points, or 2.39 points below fair value, at 1401. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 2.25 points, or 2.22 points below fair value, at 2648.

"An agreement to avert the fiscal cliff before year-end remains our central assumption, though it continues to look like a fairly close call given the political obstacles to a deal," said Goldman Sachs economists in a morning note. "If a deal is reached, we would expect a tax increase of a magnitude similar to the upper income tax cuts, though the composition might differ. Entitlement reforms also seem likely to be part of a package, particularly related to health programs. 'Downpayments' in both areas seem likely, with additional deficit reduction to be enacted in 2013 as part of a two-stage process."

The working deadline for an agreement, according to the Goldman Sachs economists, appears to be Dec. 21.

"While talks are ongoing, we would not expect serious negotiations to begin for another couple of weeks. In the interim, headlines out of Washington are likely to be mixed, but we would expect more negative than positive news until at least mid-December," the economists noted.

The major U.S. equity averages finished mixed Monday as investors tried to decipher the latest round of rhetoric coming out of Washington about the fiscal cliff.

A number of economic releases were expected in the U.S. Tuesday.

At 8:30 a.m. EST, the Census Bureau is expected by economists to report that durable goods orders fell 0.6% in October, and that orders excluding the transportation component fell 0.5%.

At 9 a.m., the S&P Case-Shiller 20-city Index is expected to show a gain of 2.9% in September after a rising 2%.

Then at 10 a.m., the Conference Board's read on consumer confidence for November is expected to show an increase to 73 from 72.2.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency's September housing price index will also be released at 10 a.m. after rising 0.7% in August.

The FTSE 100 in London was advancing 0.38% on Monday, while the DAX in Germany was climbing 0.48% after Greece's international creditors arrived at a bailout deal for the country. The deal would finally unlock €34.4 billion in financial aid to Greece, with the agreement that various steps must be taken to make the nation's debt more manageable-- these steps include cutting interest rates on bailout loans to very low levels that could result in losses for creditors and extending the deadlines on loan repayments.