US STOCKS-Futures higher ahead of housing, production data

Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:31am EST

Related Topics

* Housing starts, industrial production on tap

* Deere climbs after results

* Futures up: S&P 3.2 pts, Dow 13 pts, Nasdaq 2.75 pts

* For up-to-the-minute market news, click [STXNEWS/US]

NEW YORK, Feb 17 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wednesday, the day after it posted its biggest daily percentage gain in three months, as investors awaited data on the housing market and industrial production.

* Housing data, due at 8:30 a.m. [1330 GMT], may show that housing starts rebounded in January after building permits data jumped to their highest level in 14 months in December. For details, see [ID:nN20132291]

The median forecast for housing starts is for a rise to an annual rate of 580,000 units in January after having fallen to 557,000 units in December.

* Industrial output for January, due at 9:15 a.m. [1415 GMT] is expected to show an increase of 0.7 percent, according to Reuters forecasts.

* "The market is looking to build on the recent strength and hopefully the economic numbers, specifically housing starts and industrial production will add credibility to the recent rally in the markets," said Andre Bakhos, president of Princeton Financial Group in North Brunswick, New Jersey.

"A good economic backdrop paves the way for further equities gains and adds some semblance of stabilization."

* Later in the session, the market gets minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting, which could include more detail on the rate-setting committee's expectations for ending its ultra-loose monetary policy.

The report could show whether Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig's dissent from the central bank's vow to keep rates low for an "extended period" met any sympathy among his peers.

* S&P 500 futures SPc1 gained 3.2 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures DJc1 rose 13 points and Nasdaq 100 futures NDc1 were up 2.75 points.

* Corporate earnings continue to pour in, with Deere & Co (DE.N), the world's largest maker of farm equipment, up 6.9 percent to $57.50 in premarket trade after posting first-quarter results. [ID:nWNAB8110]

* Also on tap will be earnings from Devon Energy (DVN.N) and Chesapeake Energy (CHK.N), as well as Hewlett-Packard (HPQ.N) after the close.

* Rallying banks helped lift European shares to a two-week high on Wednesday, with equities rising for the third session, as forecast-beating results from BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA) fueled confidence in the banking sector. [ID:nLDE61G163]

* Asian shares leaped to a three-week high on Wednesday, powered by financial and resource shares after investors bought commodities on a weaker dollar, while Hong Kong shares shrugged off China's latest move to temper robust lending. [ID:nSGE61G03M]

* U.S. stocks posted their biggest daily percentage gain in three months on Tuesday after strong revenue from drugmaker Merck (MRK.N) and regional manufacturing data instilled confidence in the economic outlook.

* The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 1.7 percent; the Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX added 1.80 percent; the Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC gained 1.4 percent. (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Theodore d'Afflisio)

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