* S&P 500 ends eight-day rally, but stays above 1,500
* Yahoo rises after results, Ford shares volatile
* Futures down: Dow 20 pts, S&P 3.9 pts, Nasdaq 5.25 pts
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Jan 29 U.S. stock index futures
pointed to slight losses at the open on Tuesday as investors
took profits following an extended rally and looked for
confirmation the gains could continue.
Equities have been on a tear lately, with the S&P 500 ending
an eight-day streak of gains in Monday's session. The index
remained above 1,500, suggesting there was still support for a
market that has been hovering around five-year highs.
"We need to slow down and digest the huge move we've had, so
it makes sense futures are weak this morning, though it is also
encouraging that we're still strong enough to stay above 1,500,"
said Christian Wagner, chief executive officer at Longview
Capital Management in Wilmington, Delaware.
The gains have largely come on a strong start to earnings
season and that trend continued on Tuesday, with positive
earnings from Ford Motor Co and Pfizer Inc.
Both companies reported profits that topped expectations,
though Ford also forecast a wider loss in its European segment.
After climbing more than 4 percent, it turned lower to fall 1.7
percent to $13.54 before the bell.
Pfizer, a Dow component, rose 0.7 percent to $27.03 after
its results. Eli Lilly and Co, another pharmaceutical
company, was flat after reporting adjusted fourth-quarter
earnings and revenue that beat expectations.
Yahoo Inc rose 2.7 percent to $20.86 in premarket
trading a day after reporting adjusted earnings that beat
expectations and forecasting a rise in annual revenue.
"We've had some cross-currents on earnings, with both
strength and weakness, and that's another reason we need some
affirmation the upside will continue from here," said Wagner.
Thomson Reuters data showed that of the 150 companies in the
S&P 500 that have reported earnings so far, 67.3 percent have
beaten analysts' expectations, which is a higher proportion than
over the past four quarters and above the average since 1994.
S&P 500 futures fell 3.9 points and were below fair
value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account
interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the
contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 20
points and Nasdaq 100 futures slid 5.25 points.
The Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee begins two days
of meetings on interest rates. Traders speculated more solid
U.S. growth might see the Fed pull back on its aggressive easing
stimulus, which has played a key role in fuelling an equity
market rally since the second half of last year.
In a sign of the improved view towards equities, investors
poured $55 billion in new cash into stock mutual funds and
exchange-traded funds in January, the biggest monthly inflow on
record, research provider TrimTabs Investment Research said.
Home prices rose 0.6 percent in November, as expected,
according to the S&P Case/Shiller Home Price Index. The news
comes a day after data showed an unexpected drop in December
pending home sales.
Futures were little impacted by the Case/Shiller report.
January consumer confidence is due at 10 a.m. (1500 GMT) and is
seen dipping to 64 from 65.1 in the previous month.
U.S. stocks edged modestly lower on Monday. However,
Caterpillar Inc rallied after results, limiting losses
in the Dow, while a rebound in shares of Apple Inc kept
the Nasdaq in positive territory.