File photo: Brendan McDermid

New York - US stocks were set for a flat open on Tuesday after a slight decline in the prior session left the S&P 500 within striking distance of its recent record high and amid investor caution as tensions in Ukraine continued.

* Investors were wary in light of events in Ukraine. A pro-Russian force opened fire in seizing a Ukrainian military base in Crimea on Monday and NATO announced reconnaissance flights along its eastern frontiers as confrontation around the Black Sea peninsula showed no sign of easing.

* On Tuesday, ousted leader Viktor Yanukovich insisted he remained Ukraine's legitimate president and commander-in-chief, saying he would return to Kiev and appealing to the armed forces to defy any “criminal orders” handed down by his foes.

* S&P 500 e-mini futures rose 1.75 points and were about even with 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 gained 15 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 6.5 points.

* Economic data expected on Tuesday includes wholesale inventories for January at 10:00 a.m. EST (1400 GMT). Expectations are for a 0.4 percent rise in inventories against the prior increase of 0.3 percent.

* J.C. Penney Co Inc jumped 6.8 percent to $8.99 in premarket trading after Citigroup raised its rating on the stock to “buy” and boosted its price target to $11 per share.

* Myriad Genetics Inc lost 8.7 percent to $34.48 before the opening bell after the diagnostics company said a U.S. court denied a motion that would have stopped rival Ambry Genetics Corp from selling a similar version of Myriad's cancer test.

* La Jolla Pharmaceutical Co surged 65.1 percent to $17.99 in premarket after the company said its lead experimental drug to treat chronic kidney disease met the main goal of improving kidney function in a mid-stage study.

* American Eagle Outfitters Inc slumped 6.2 percent to $13.33 before the opening bell after the teen apparel retailer reported fourth-quarter earnings and forecast earnings for the current quarter that were short of expectations.

* Dick's Sporting Goods Inc advanced 1.7 percent to $55.25 after the company posted fourth-quarter earnings and gave its first-quarter outlook.

* The S&P 500 closed down 0.05 percent on Monday, held back by soft data from China and weakness in Boeing Co shares. The index is down less than 1 percent from both its intraday and closing record highs.