U.S. stock futures struggled for direction on Tuesday, with investors playing a waiting game in the run-up to the key jobs report later this week, as they weigh the prospects for an interest rate rise.
Investors are assessing Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer's comments on interest rates, which follow the hawkish tone taken last week by Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen.
Investors are also monitoring premarket action in Apple shares after the European Union's antitrust regulator said the company's tax deal in Ireland breached state-aid rules.
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 3 points at 18,486.00. while those for the S&P 500 index slipped 0.80 point to 2,178.50. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 index were down 9.25 points, or 0.2%, to 4,784.00.
"Tuesday is likely to be one of the quieter days in an otherwise busy and important week for the markets, with investors having one eye on Friday's U.S. jobs report following Janet Yellen's hawkish comments at Jackson Hole on Friday," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda, in a note.
U.S. stock markets closed higher on Monday, rebounding from Yellen-fueled losses. The S&P 500 index rose 0.5% Monday, while the Dow average ended 0.6% higher.
In her Jackson Hole comments, Yellen said the U.S. economy is improving, and that strengthens the case for an increase in interest rates this year. The nonfarm payrolls report at the end of the week will be assessed as to how it affects the prospects for tighter policy, and whether that could come as soon as the September meeting.
"Should we get a strong jobs report for August, then the next FOMC decision in three weeks will absolutely be a live meeting, whether markets want to accept that or not," Erlam said.
"A weak report probably leaves us back at square one from where the markets are positioned, because even now, they're reluctant to buy what the Fed is selling," he added.