* Applied Materials to merge with Tokyo Electron, shares
* Facebook shares up on report it could be allowed in China
* Futures: Dow up 5 pts, S&P off 1 pt, Nasdaq up 5 pts
NEW YORK, Sept 24 U.S. stock index futures were
little changed on Tuesday ahead of housing and consumer economic
data that could help investors decipher recent comments by
Federal Reserve officials over the near future of its stimulus
* New York Fed President William Dudley said Tuesday he
"certainty wouldn't want to rule out" a reduction in the U.S.
central bank's bond-buying program later this year, before
repeating that a plan that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke outlined in
June to wind down stimulus remained "intact."
* The Fed's $85 billion a month in asset purchases has been
instrumental for a rally that has lifted the S&P 500
nearly 20 percent so far this year. Bernanke's plan was to
reduce quantitative easing later this year and to end it by
about mid-2014 as long as the economy keeps improving as
* German business morale improved for a fifth consecutive
month in September in a further sign that Europe's largest
economy is staging a recovery, even as the data came in slightly
* Facebook shares rose 1.7 percent to $48 in
premarket trading after the South China Morning Post reported
the online social media giant and other web sites deemed
sensitive and blocked by the Chinese government will be
accessible in a planned free-trade zone in Shanghai.
* S&P 500 futures fell 1 point and were little
changed in terms of 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
rose 5 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 5
* Shares of Applied Materials rose 7.6 percent in
premarket trading after the chipmaker and Tokyo Electron Ltd
said they will merge in an all-stock deal, creating a
$29 billion company.
* Standard & Poor's releases its S&P/Case Shiller Home Price
Index for July at 9 a.m. (1300 GMT). Economists in a Reuters
survey expect the adjusted 20-city index to rise 0.8 percent
versus a 0.9 percent rise in the previous month.
* The Conference Board releases its September consumer
confidence index at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT). Economists expect a
reading of 79.9 compared with 81.5 in August.