Futures Flat as Traders Digest Housing Data

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U.S. stock-index futures were in search of direction Tuesday as traders mulled better-than-expected housing data and disappointing Pfizer earnings.

Today's Markets

As of 9:05 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 3 points to 14745, S&P 500 futures dipped 1 point to 1587 and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 1 point to 2860.

The broad S&P 500 notched a fresh record closing high on Monday as technology and materials shares rallied on generally upbeat data and rising commodity prices. The spotlight was expected to stay on the U.S. economy, the world's biggest, as the week progresses.

Home prices in 20 major U.S. metropolitan areas climbed 0.3% in February from January on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, beating expectations of a gain of 0.2%, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller report. Prices rose 9.3% from the same month in 2012, also topping forecasts of a 9% advance.

The housing market has seen considerable recovery since the collapse in late 2007. Indeed, the Federal Reserve has cited the gains seen in housing as critical to the broader recovery.

A report due later from the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago may show the manufacturing sector in the U.S. Midwest having expanded at a slightly swifter pace in April than the month before. Regional manufacturing reads have generally been weak this month, with one from the Dallas Fed on Monday coming in far short of forecasts.

Later, at 10:00 a.m. ET, traders get a reading on consumer confidence from the Conference Board. The measure is expected to have climbed to 60.8 from 59.7 this month.

The Fed also kicks off its two-day policy meeting on the day. A statement is due on Wednesday. Economists broadly expect the central bank to hold interest rates at historic lows -- per the unemployment and inflation targets it set -- and keep the pace of its asset purchases at $85 billion a month. However, Fed watchers will be looking for clues on when the central bank will begin tapering its vast quantitative easing program.

On the corporate front, Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) revealed adjusted first-quarter profits of 54 cents a share, missing estimates by a penny. Sales of $13.5 billion also came in shy of expectations of $13.99 billion. Shares slid 2% in pre-market trading.

Oil futures were mildly lower. The benchmark U.S. contract dipped 18 cents, or 0.19%, to $94.32 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline fell 0.26% to $2.82 a gallon. In metals, gold advanced $4.70, or 0.32%, to $1,472 a troy once.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 dipped 0.18% to 2713, the English FTSE 100 fell 0.12% to 6450 and the German DAX rose 0.49% to 7912.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 slumped 0.17% to 13861 and the Chinese Hang Seng climbed 0.69% to 22737.