Futures Tick Up as Traders Shrug Off Cyprus Worries
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U.S. stock-index futures edged higher Tuesday as traders shook off worries about Cyprus and responded to better-than-expected housing data.
As of 8:39 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 22 points to 14412, S&P 500 futures gained 3.3 points to 1550 and Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 8.5 points to 2796.
The week kicked off with a choppy trading session, and a reminder that the eurozone's debt crisis can still flare up. Cyprus' financial and political landscape have been roiled by a bailout proposal that would tap depositors' bank accounts as partial funding. The move has threatened to cause bank runs and potentially boil over into more systemically-important countries, like Italy and Spain, by making borrowing costs there jump.
The Cypriot parliament was expected to vote on a softened version of the plan that would ease the terms for individuals with less than $129,000 in their accounts, although media reports suggested the chances of it passing were fairly slim.
Also on the European front, a closely-watched reading on German economic sentiment from the ZEW Institute unexpectedly ticked slightly higher. Germany is Europe's biggest economy, but it has taken a beating from the eurozone debt crisis.
There was also a key report out on the U.S. housing market.
The Commerce Department said housing starts increased 0.8% last month to a 917,000-unit annual rate, slightly better than expectations of 915,000. Permits for construction jumped 4.6% to a 946,000-unit rate, also coming in ahead of estimates of 925,000. Both readings were the highest since June 2008.
The market for new homes has been showing signs of improvement in recent months, and many economists say housing more broadly is going to be an increasingly big part of the economic recovery.
Stocks of homebuilders like KB Home (NYSE:KBH) and Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL) could be impacted as well.
On the corporate front, Citigroup (NYSE:C) said it would pay $730 million to settle a class-action lawsuit over financial disclosures during the financial crisis. The nation's third-biggest bank by assets denied any wrongdoing in the case. UBS (NYSE:UBS) said it would exit the EURLibor setting panel as it continues shrinking down its investment-banking operations.
Energy futures were little changed. The benchmark U.S. crude oil contract rose 24 cents, or 0.26%, to $93.98 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline dipped 0.29% to $3.12 a gallon. In metals, gold fell $1.90, or 0.12%, to $1,603 a troy ounce.
The Euro Stoxx 50 slumped 0.57% to 2690, the English FTSE 100 slipped 0.16% to 6448 and the German DAX fell 0.39% to 7981.
In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 surged 2% to 12468 and the Chinese Hang Seng dipped 0.19% to 22042.