U.S. stocks were set to open slightly lower on Tuesday as investors awaited Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's speech for clues on when the central bank may raise interest rates.
An about 2.5 percent drop in crude oil prices also made investors more cautious amid concerns that a two-month rally may be in danger of fizzling.
Yellen, who is due to speak before the Economic Club of New York at 12:20 p.m. ET (1620 GMT), will make her first remarks since the Fed's meeting in March.
The central bank has said it will depend on economic data before it makes a decision on rates, but several policymakers have voiced support for more than one increase this year.
Investors will keep a close eye on Yellen's remarks as they look for fresh drivers that could push stocks higher.
The S&P 500 is back in the red for the year after a five-week rally lost momentum as investors fret about the state of the U.S. economy amid global economic turmoil.
"We are seeing a little bit of a pause here," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital in New York. "I don't expect major volatility this week. I expect this quiet packing and filling to continue."
The S&P has traded in a narrow range, not moving more than 1 percent in either direction in more than two weeks.
At 8:29 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 57 points, or 0.33 percent, with 24,518 contracts changing hands. S&P 500 e-minis were down 5.5 points, or 0.27 percent, with 184,409 contracts traded. Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 8 points, or 0.18 percent, on volume of 22,013 contracts.
U.S. stocks ended flat on Monday on low volumes after data pointing to a sluggish economic recovery reduced concerns of rate hikes and a dip in oil prices pushed down energy stocks.
The Conference Board's consumer confidence index, due to be released at 10:00 a.m., is expected to have risen to 94 in March from 92.2 in February.
Among other Fed officials speaking on Tuesday is New York Fed President William Dudley.
Shares of Lennar were up 2.6 percent at $47.93 premarket after the homebuilder reported higher-than-expected quarterly profit and revenue.
Ebay was down 1.5 percent at $23.75 and LinkedIn fell about 2 percent to $107.05 after Barclays cut its ratings on the stocks.
Chipotle was down 2 percent at $466.80 after Wedbush downgraded the stock to "underperform".
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan and Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)
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First Published On : Mar 30, 2016 00:30 IST