Stock Futures Higher As China Cools

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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures moved higher Tuesday in the build-up to the next wave of first-quarter earnings reports as data showed inflation in China slowed more than forecast, making it more likely the Chinese won't raise interest rates.

Aluminum producer Alcoa kicked off earnings season Monday, coming up short on revenue but beating analysts' profit expectations.

Alcoa was down 1.07% to $8.30 in premarket trading Tuesday.

JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo report their earnings on Friday and are expected to set the tone for big money-center banks.

Futures for the S&P 500 were up 2 points, or 3.78 points above fair value, to 1,561.25.

China's National Bureau of Statistics said Tuesday that annual consumer inflation in the country eased in March as food prices retreated from nine-month highs and producer price deflation worsened, stoking hopes that China still has room for easy monetary policy programs to stimulate the economic recovery.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 3 points, or 21.52 points above fair value, at 14,566. Futures for the Nasdaq were rising 7.25 points, or 8.82 points above fair value, at 2,788.25.

"There's a tendency among both companies and analysts to set the bar a little lower so that it's a better way to manage investor expectations," Ted Weisberg, president of Seaport Securities Corp. in New York, said of company guidance during an interview with TheStreet on Monday.

"If the bar has been set low and earnings come in better than expectations, especially meaningfully better than expectations ... probably we'll see a positive reaction in the stock market," he said.

Overall the first-quarter earnings among Standard & Poor's 500 companies are expected to increase 1.6% from last year, according to Thomson Reuters.

The Census Bureau releases the wholesale inventories report at 10 a.m. EDT. The report can provide clues into consumer trends. Economists are expecting a rise of 0.5% in February against an increase of 1.2% in January.

The DAX in Germany was higher by 0.1% and the UK FTSE 100 was up 0.42%. The Hong Kong Hang Seng index settled up 0.7% and the Nikkei 225 in Japan finished flat.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was rising 1/32, diluting the yield to 1.747%. The dollar was falling 0.37% to $82.44 according to the U.S. dollar index.

May crude oil futures were up 28 cents to $93.64 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

J.C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson is stepping down and the company announced former CEO Mike Ullman would be taking charge at the struggling retailer. Shares were tumbling 6.55% to $14.83.

Beverage maker Monster Beverage announced Monday a $200 million share repurchase program that replaces the expired $250 million share repurchase program.

Plastic compounds maker A. Schulman cut it full-year earnings forecast Monday on expectations of more trouble ahead in Europe.