* Crude oil recovers slightly
* Apple, Intel rise after rating upgrades
* Lululemon up on strong holiday sales forecast
* Futures up: Dow 160 pts, S&P 20 pts, Nasdaq 49.25 pts (Adds details, comment, updates prices)
By Abhiram Nandakumar
Jan 12 (Reuters) - U.S. stock indexes were set to open higher on Tuesday as crude oil prices edged off 12-year lows.
Crude prices flirted with a break below $30 per barrel, before recovering slightly as investors booked profits.
“The market is still very much in gripped by the plunge in oil prices and this morning we’re seeing a slightly little better tone to oil prices,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial in New York.
U.S. stocks have opened higher in the past two sessions, only to reverse course later in volatile trading as investors fretted about a China-led global growth slowdown and sharp turns in oil prices.
The S&P 500 and the Dow closed slightly higher on Monday, boosted by Apple, but gains were limited by energy and materials stocks. The Nasdaq ended lower, hurt by biotechs.
All three major indexes are hovering at 3-month lows with the pressure unlikely to eased by earnings reports.
Investors are bracing for a U.S. earnings recession, with fourth-quarter profits expected to decline for the second straight quarter.
Earnings at S&P 500 companies likely fell 4.2 percent on average in the quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data.
But, Cardillo expects the gyrations in the oil markets will be topmost on investors’ minds.
“I think earnings season this time is going to take a back seat because oil is still going to be the dominating factor for investors”.
At 8:28 a.m. ET (1328 GMT), Dow e-minis were up 160 points, or 0.98 percent, with 73,123 contracts changing hands.
S&P 500 e-minis were up 20 points, or 1.04 percent, with 322,259 contracts traded, while Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 49.25 points, or 1.15 percent, on 58,222 contracts.
Shares of Intel were up 1.8 percent at $32.64 premarket after JP Morgan resumed coverage of the stock with an “overweight” rating. Mizuho also raised its rating to “buy”.
Apple was up 2 percent at $100.44 after BofA Merrill raised its rating on the stock to “buy”. The stock has been under pressure over concerns about falling iPhone sales.
Exxon and Chevron were up about 1.5 percent. Freeport-McMoRan, up 4.4 percent, and Transocean , up 3.4 percent, led the premarket gainers on the S&P.
Apollo Education jumped 16.9 percent to $7.46 on reports that PE firm Apollo Global Management was in talks to buy the for-profit education provider.
Lululemon was up nearly 9 percent at $56.62 after the Canadian yogawear retailer raised its fourth-quarter revenue forecast. (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D‘Souza)