Stock Futures Climb Amid Mixed Housing Data

FOX Business: The Power to Prosper

U.S. stock-index futures got a boost from data suggesting permits to build new homes are rising in the U.S., but the gains were checked by a weaker-than-expected reading on new housing starts.

Today's Markets

As of 8:40 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures climbed 28 points to 12714, S&P 500 futures rose 2.5 points to 1344 and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 8.8 points to 2597.

Europe continues to be a major focus for the markets as the debt crisis there begins pervading the embattled continent's core. Business sentiment in Germany, Europe's biggest economy, tumbled the most since 1998 in June, according to the closely-watched ZEW survey. Markets in Europe initially fell on the news, but as has been a trend in recent weeks, rebounded amid hopes it may provide policymakers with an incentive to unleash new easing measures.

Spain also had a short-term debt auction in which it saw robust demand, exceeding its upper target, but at the cost of paying substantially higher borrowing costs than it did at the last auction. The yield on the country's 10-year note eased slightly on the secondary market, recently sitting at 7.16%, which many analysts say is too high to sustain for long without a public-sector rescue.

Meanwhile, the New Democracy party that scored a victory in weekend elections in Greece continued working on forging a unity a government on the day. It is expected that such a government would support austerity measures that the European Union and International Monetary Fund demand in exchange for the $219 billion bailout, but there are still many hurdles left.

The Euro Stoxx 50, which tracks eurozone blue chips, rose 0.38%, while the euro climbed 0.36% to $1.2622.

U.S. housing starts fell 4.8% in May to a 708,000-unit rate, according to the Commerce Department, missing economists' estimates of a 720,000-unit rate. Housing permits rose 7.9% to a 780,000-unit rate, the highest since September 2008 and above analysts' forecasts of a 728,000-unit rate. The market for new homes has been particularly slow to recover as a result of high supply, tepid demand and stubbornly tight lending conditions.

Also on the economic front, the Federal Reserve is set to kick off its two-day policy meeting on the day. Economists broadly expect the central bank to hold its monetary policy steady, but there is a growing choir of Fed watchers who think it may unveil a new program to lengthen the maturity of its balance sheet or even offer a new quantitative easing program. The Fed is being confronted with increasingly gloomy economic data, coupled with reports that suggest inflation is broadly in check, increasing calls that it may act.

On the corporate front, FedEx (NYSE:FDX) posted a fiscal fourth-quarter profit of $1.99 a share, excluding items, topping estimates of $1.92. The global shipping giant’s sales came in at $11 billion, slightly shy of the $11.13 billion expected. The company also said it expects to earn between $1.45 and $1.60 a share in its first quarter, short of the $1.70 analysts forecast.

Oil futures were slightly to the upside, helped by a weaker dollar. The benchmark crude oil contract traded in New York rose 25 cent, or 0.3%, to $83.52 a barrel. Wholesale New York Habor gasoline dipped 0.24% to $2.65 a gallon.

In metals, gold climbed $4.30, or 0.26%, to $1,631 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.37% to 2161, the English FTSE 100 jumped 0.85% to 5491 and the German DAX gained 0.43% to 6255.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 fell 0.75% to 8693 and the Chinese Hang Seng edged lower by 0.06% to 19451.