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Stock futures trading in narrow range

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[August 26, 2009]  NEW YORK (AP) -- Stock futures are trading in a narrow range Wednesday as investors prepare for a key reading on orders to U.S. factories and the latest in a series of housing reports as the government releases data on new home sales.

Overseas, Asian markets advanced, but European markets fell slightly.

Looking for the latest signs of a potential economic recovery, traders are awaiting a Commerce Department report that is expected to show durable goods orders likely grew in July. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters predict orders to U.S. factories for items expected to last at least three years increased 3 percent in July, due in part to increased auto sales from the government's Cash for Clunkers program. Orders dipped 2.2 percent in June amid slowing commercial aircraft orders.

The report it due out at 8:30 a.m. EDT.

The Commerce Department is also expected to release new data that shows the hard-hit housing market is continuing its recovery. Economists predict new home sales likely rose 1.6 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 390,000, from 384,000 in June, according to Thomson Reuters.


The report is due out at 10 a.m. EDT.

Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures are down 13, or 0.1 percent, at 9,510. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures are down 2.00, or 0.2 percent, at 1,024.10, while Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 0.25, or less than 0.1 percent, at 1,636.75.

Stocks got a lift Tuesday after data on home prices added to beliefs the battered sector is stabilizing and recovering. The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index rose 1.4 percent in the second quarter, the first quarterly increase in three years. It was the second straight month the price index rose.

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Traders also welcomed a more upbeat report on consumer sentiment, sending the Dow up 0.3 percent and the S&P 0.2 percent. The Conference Board said Tuesday its Consumer Confidence Index jumped to 54.1 this month, far above the 47.5 reading economists expected. The strength of the consumer is considered vital to any potential recovery because consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of all economic activity.

Meanwhile, bond prices fell slightly. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 3.45 percent from 3.44 percent late Tuesday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, rose to 0.16 percent from 0.15 percent late Tuesday.

The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 1.4 percent. In afternoon trading, Britain's FTSE 100 declined 0.1 percent, Germany's DAX index fell 0.3 percent, and France's CAC-40 declined 0.2 percent.

[Associated Press; By STEPHEN BERNARD]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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