* Debt ceiling debate, earnings season worries hit futures
* Retail sales, manufacturing, producer prices data on tap
* Futures down: S&P 6.5 pts, Dow 31 pts, Nasdaq 9.25 pts
By Leah Schnurr
NEW YORK, Jan 15 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures
slipped on Tuesday as investors fretted over the debate brewing
in Washington over raising the U.S. borrowing limit as well as
what is expected to be a lackluster earnings season.
Economic reports include U.S. retail sales and producer
prices for December as well as manufacturing activity in New
York state for January, all due at 8:30 a.m. (1330 GMT).
Business inventories for November will be released at 10 a.m.
On Monday, President Barack Obama rejected any negotiations
with Republicans over raising the U.S. debt ceiling. The United
States could default on its debt if Congress does not increase
the borrowing limit.
Resolving the debt ceiling debate is more a question of how
than if. Investors are wary of another last-minute agreement
like the one in August 2011, said Rick Meckler, president of
investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City,
"Of course people expect the government will not default on
its debt ... but there could be damage done in how it's
resolved," said Meckler. "A long, dragged out fight over this
damages the credibility of the government and can weaken the
global market for U.S. debt."
Speaking separately on Monday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben
Bernanke urged lawmakers to raise the debt ceiling. The central
bank chairman also gave a cautiously optimistic outlook for U.S.
growth but no clear hints on when the Fed would curb its
aggressive bond purchases.
Corporate earnings season picks up the pace this week and
investors are bracing for disappointment. Analyst estimates for
the quarter have fallen sharply since October. S&P 500 earnings
growth is now seen up just 1.9 percent from a year ago, Thomson
Reuters data showed.
Homebuilder Lennar on Tuesday reported profit that
beat expectations amid a jump in new home orders. The stock
edged down 0.9 percent to $40.66 in premarket trading.
S&P 500 futures fell 6.5 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 were down
31 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 9.25 points.
Shares of Dell rose 3.7 percent to $12.75 in
premarket trade the day after sources said the company is in
talks with private equity firms on a potential buyout.
Facebook added 1.2 percent to $31.32 ahead of a major
news event at its headquarters. The secretive nature of the
event has triggered a guessing game about what the company could
ConocoPhillips said it would sell its properties in
the Cedar Creek Anticline in Montana and North Dakota to Denbury
Resources Inc for $1.05 billion in cash.
QLogic, the networking products maker, surged 7.1
percent to $10.90 after it gave a third-quarter outlook.