* Existing home sales seen slipping
* Monetary policy to remain accommodative-Fed official
* Futures: S&P down 0.1, Dow up 2 pts, Nasdaq up 0.75
* For up-to-the-minute market news, click [STXNEWS/US]
(Recasts, adds quote, details)
By Leah Schnurr
NEW YORK, March 23 Wall Street was set for a
flat open on Tuesday as investors awaited data on the housing
market, which remains one of the weakest segments of the
Existing home sales for February will be released at 10:00
a.m. EDT (1400 GMT). Sales are expected to slip to 5 million in
February from 5.05 million the month before, according to
Reuters data. Other data includes the FHFA House Price Index
for January, also at 10:00 a.m. See [ECI/US]
"Existing home sales should bring some clarity to the
economic picture. A positive number will add confidence the
economy is on the right track and that the recession has been
contained," said Andre Bakhos, president of Princeton Financial
Group in North Brunswick, New Jersey.
Investors are eyeing a European Union summit later in the
week that will tackle Greece's fiscal problems. Greece wants a
European solution to its debt crisis and expects positive
results from the summit, the country's finance minister said.
While German Chancellor Angela Merkel continued to rebuff
calls for a support deal on Monday, a German newspaper reported
EU leaders are aiming to present a compromise on aid for Greece
before the start of the summit on Thursday. [ID:nLDE62M0LS]
Lending support to the market, a top Federal Reserve
official said unacceptably high unemployment and well-contained
inflation make it likely that U.S. monetary policy will
continue to be accommodative for at least several more months.
For details, see [ID:nTOE62M039]
Shares of Baidu Inc (BIDU.O) gained 2.3 percent to $593.06
before the opening bell after rival Google Inc (GOOG.O) shut
down its mainland Chinese portal and began rerouting searches
to its Hong Kong website. [ID:nTOE62M01C]
Walgreen Co's WAG.N shares rose 1.2 percent to $35.75
after the top U.S. drugstore chain reported higher quarterly
profit as it discounted less seasonal merchandise.
S&P 500 futures SPc1 off 0.1 points but 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 gained 2
points, and Nasdaq 100 futures NDc1 up 0.75 points.
The S&P 500 has gained 5.6 percent so far this month as the
market has added another leg to a rally that began more than a
year ago. The Dow rebounded to finish at a 17-month high on
Monday, racking up its ninth gain in 10 sessions.
The fact that the market has defied some expectations for a
significant correction "is telling us that six to 12 months
down the road we're going to be in far better shape than many
are expecting in terms of the overall economy," said Peter
Kenny, managing director at Knight Equity Markets in Jersey
City, New Jersey.
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)