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Stock futures little changed ahead of opening

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[October 27, 2009]  NEW YORK (AP) -- Stock futures are little changed ahead of Tuesday's opening as investors prepare for new reports on home prices and consumer confidence.

Stocks are trying to rebound after being pummeled for the second straight day on Monday, and for the fourth time in the last five days.

Overseas, Asia markets fell overnight following declines Monday in the U.S. In Europe, markets advanced modestly.

Investors are awaiting reports on housing prices and consumer confidence to determine if the market has gotten ahead an economic rebound.


The Conference Board is expected to report consumer confidence rose slightly in October compared with the previous month. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters predict the confidence index will rise to 53.5, from 53.1 in September. A reading above 90 means the economy is on solid footing. Above 100 signals strong growth.

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

Consumer strength is considered vital to a recovery because consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of all economic activity, and the country is entering the key holiday shopping period.

A housing market recovery is also considered important to a recovery as the collapse of that market helped drive the country into recession.

The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, which measures changes in home prices in 20 of the nation's largest metropolitan markets, is expected to show house prices continued to decline in August. Economists predict prices fell 11.9 percent compared with the same month a year ago.

Traders will also get a fresh dose of earnings throughout the day, including United States Street Corp. and Visa Inc.

Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 10, or 0.1 percent, to 9,851. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures rose 0.50, or 0.1 percent, to 1,066.90, while Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 1.00, or 0.1 percent, to 1,749.00.

Stocks have struggled in recent days as the dollar has been strengthening, pushing the price of commodities lower. Commodities are traded in dollars, so a stronger dollar makes it more expensive for foreign investors to buy into the market. Weakness in the commodities market has pressured energy and materials stocks.

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Fears of an overheated market has also been playing into the market's recent decline. Stocks had been surging almost nonstop since March. Analysts have been saying for weeks the market was due for a pause or modest retreat. Major indexes had hit their yearly highs last week.

The Dow fell 104 points, or 1.1 percent, on Monday. It was the second straight triple-digit loss for the Dow. That hadn't happened since the middle of June.

The S&P declined 1.2 percent, and is down 2.8 percent since it peaked last week.

The dollar fell early Tuesday against other major currencies, while gold prices also dipped.

Meanwhile, bond prices were little changed ahead of the government's latest auction. The Treasury is auctioning off $44 billion in two-year notes Monday afternoon.


The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 3.55 percent from 3.56 percent late Monday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, rose to 0.08 percent from 0.06 percent.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 1.5 percent. In afternoon trading, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.4 percent, Germany's DAX index gained 0.3 percent, and France's CAC-40 rose 0.3 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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