Stock Futures Dip Ahead of Alcoa's Earnings

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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were dipping Tuesday as investors awaited the unofficial kickoff of earnings season Tuesday with a report from aluminum giant Alcoa(AA) .

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were off 13 points, or 20.29 points below fair value, at 13,294. Futures for the S&P 500 were down 1.5 points, or 1.94 points below fair value, at 1454. Futures for the Nasdaq were behind by 2.5 points, or 3.22 points below fair value, at 2715.

Major U.S. stock averages slumped on Monday after a run-up Friday in which the S&P 500 rose to a new closing high.

Aluminum giant Alcoa is expected by analysts Tuesday to post fourth-quarter earnings of 6 cents a share on revenue of $5.61 billion.

Shares of Alcoa were up 0.77% in premarket trading.

"Starting Tuesday afternoon, with Alcoa's Q4 earnings report, corporate fundamentals will start to matter again -- if only briefly," said Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at ConvergEx. "U.S. companies have proven time and again over the last four years that they can deliver strong bottom-line results in spite of a tepid global economy. The market-moving information will, instead, be at the top of the income statement -- as it was during Q3 2012 season."

Colas' monthly review of analysts' revenue estimates for the companies of the Dow shows an expected rebound from the third quarter's negative 2% year-on-year change to positive 1.1%. On the downside, said Colas, that's what analysts thought last quarter, right before many large multinational corporations missed on the top line.

Thomson Reuters is expecting fourth-quarter earnings to grow 2.8% over the same period last year. Thomson Reuters said that of the 21 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings to date for the fourth quarter 2012, 62% have reported earnings above analysts' expectations. This matches the long-term average of 62% and is lower than the average over the past four quarters of 65%.

Meanwhile, 67% of companies have reported fourth-quarter revenue above analyst expectations, according to Thomson Reuters. This is higher than the long-term average of 62% and higher than the average over the past four quarters of 50%.

The economic calendar is light Tuesday.

At 1:30 p.m. EST, Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker will speak on the economic outlook in South Carolina.

The Federal Reserve is expected by economists to report at 3 p.m. EST that consumer credit increased by $12.75 billion in November after expanding by $14.2 billion in October.

Gold for February delivery was up Tuesday by $5.60 at $1,651.90 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while February crude oil contracts were up 33 cents at $93.52 a barrel.

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The benchmark 10-year Treasury was up 4/32, diluting the yield to 1.89%. The dollar was down 0.1%, according to the U.S. dollar index.