* 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 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
* 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.