Stock Futures Tick Lower as ECB Enthusiasm Fades


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Stock-index futures slipped into the red after Tuesday's buying frenzy as traders weighed what impact a record loan offering from the European Central Bank would have on beleaguered eurozone debt markets.

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Today's Markets 

As of 8:30 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures slid 35 points to 11,996, S&P 500 futures fell 4.8 points to 1,231 and Nasdaq 100 futures dipped 6.5 points to 2,260.

The eurozone debt crisis has been a major focus on Wall Street as its crept from Europe's periphery to its core, and threatened the region's financial markets. For weeks, analysts have been looking to see what measures the European Central Bank would take in a bid to ease the crisis.

The ECB said on Wednesday it lent 489.19 billion euros to 523 European banks at its first-ever three-year bond auction. The money was lent at a rate of 1%. While analysts saw the move as generally positive for the banking sector that has been weighed down by the debt crisis, many market participants are still worry that it may do little to directly affect sovereign debt markets.

The move comes as "fairly good news," however it remains unclear how much of the capital will be used to shore up balance sheets and how much will go into debt markets, said Will Hedden, a trader at London-based IG Index in an interview with FOX Business. Debt yields have climbed as investors have exited the market sovereign debt markets.

The yields on closely-watched eurozone bonds remained elevated but well off of recent highs. The benchmark Italian 10-year presently yields 6.55%, while the Spain's yields 5.08%. Investors demand 4.6 percentage point premium to buy Italian debt over the German bund, Europe's safe-haven asset, and a 3.1 percentage point premium to purchase Spain's bonds.

The euro rose 0.05% to $1.3085, while European blue chips gained 0.33%.

Wall Street surged on Tuesday, with the broad S&P 500 zooming 3%, and many commodities tacking on substantial gains as well.

On the economic front, a report from the National Association of Realtors on existing home sales is on tap for 10:00 a.m. ET. Economists say sales likely rose to an annual rate of 5.05 million units in November from 4.97 million the prior month. Perhaps more closely watched, however, will be five years worth of revisions to the NAR's data on the housing market. The group said earlier this month that it overestimated figures dating back to before the housing crisis began.

Commodities markets were little changed. The benchmark crude oil contract rose 25 cents, or 0.26%, to $97.51 a barrel. Wholesale RBOB gasoline ticked 0.21% higher to $2.584 a gallon. Traders will get fresh data on energy inventories at 10:30 a.m. ET., which often has a substantial market impact.

Gold gained $8.30, or 0.51%, to $1,626 a troy ounce. Treasury yields fell as traders bought the safe-haven asset. The benchmark 10-year note yields 1.918% from 1.923%.

Foreign Markets

European blue chips climbed 0.33%, the English FTSE 100 climbed 0.14% to 5,427 and the German DAX rose 0.37% to 5,868.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 soared 1.5% to 8,460 and the Chinese Hang Seng rallied 1.9% to 18,416.

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