US STOCKS-Futures little changed ahead of Cyprus vote

Tue Mar 19, 2013 7:48am EDT

* Cyprus aims to exempt small savers from deposit tax

* U.S. housing starts on tap

* Futures: S&P up 1.1 pts; Dow up 3 pts; Nasdaq off 1.5 pts

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, March 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Tuesday amid caution ahead of a crucial vote in Cyprus that could lead the country into default, as investors waited to see if the nation's troubles would have a wider impact in the euro zone.

* Cyprus's parliament was set to reject a divisive tax on bank deposits in a vote scheduled for Tuesday, a government spokesman said. The government has proposed to spare small savers from the tax in a bid to win parliamentary backing for an international bailout and avoid default and a banking collapse.

* A weekend announcement that Cyprus would break with previous practice and impose a levy on bank accounts as part of a 10 billion euro ($13 billion) EU bailout prompted some turmoil on European financial markets on Monday.

* Investors awaited U.S. housing starts and permits data for February, due at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT). Economists surveyed by Reuters forecast a 915,000 annualized rate in February versus 890,000 in January, and a total of 925,000 permits in February compared with 904,000 in the prior month.

* S&P 500 futures added 1.1 points, in line with 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 added 3 points, while Nasdaq 100 futures lost 1.5 points.

* Citigroup Inc has agreed to pay $730 million to settle a class action lawsuit on behalf of investors who said they were misled by the company's disclosures.

* BlackRock Inc, the world's largest money manager, will lay off nearly 300 employees, or about 3 percent of its workforce, according to an internal memo obtained by Reuters.

* The head of Valero Energy Corp said Monday his company is not pursuing a sale of its two California refineries, ending months of speculation over whether it was seeking buyers for the two plants.

* Boeing Co technical workers voted by a wide margin to ratify a new four-year labor agreement with the company, ending the possibility of a strike that could have cut production at a critical time for the aircraft maker.

* Drugmaker Affymax Inc said it was considering selling itself or filing for bankruptcy among a range of alternatives, as it struggles to stay afloat following the recent recall of its sole commercial product, the anaemia drug Omontys.

* Intersections Inc, a provider of identity theft protection, said its full-year revenue will fall as much as 15 percent as regulatory scrutiny causes financial services companies to pull back on marketing its products.

* U.S. stocks fell on Monday after a plan to tax bank accounts in Cyprus to help pay for the country's bailout stoked worries that it could threaten the stability of financial institutions in the euro zone.