* Housing starts, Fed minutes on tap
* Tesla to report earnings after the close
* Futures down: Dow 6 pts, S&P 6 pts, Nasdaq 8.25 pts
NEW YORK, Feb 19 U.S. stock index futures fell
on Wednesday on investor caution ahead of the release of housing
data and minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest meeting of
* Housing starts data, due at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT), will
provide a glimpse into the possible impact of a severe U.S.
winter on recent economic data. On Tuesday, data showed U.S.
homebuilder confidence suffered its largest one-month drop ever
in February, suggesting recent signs of weakness in the economy
may reflect deeper problems than the winter's impact.
* At 2:00 p.m. EST, the U.S. central bank will release
minutes of its January policy meeting, at which it decided to
further trim its monthly bond buying program.
* Tesla shares were in focus after they hit an
all-time high of $206.00 in the previous session. Shares of the
company, which reports earnings after the close, were down 1.1
percent in premarket trading.
* S&P 500 e-mini futures fell 6 points and were below
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 fell 6
points and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 8.25 points.
* Currency dealers kept an eye on China's central bank after
it drained funds from the money market on Tuesday. The People's
Bank of China (PBOC) is trying to engineer a gradual upward
shift in the cost of money to encourage companies to deleverage
and discourage high-risk shadow banking activity.
* Investors were anxious in case the monetary tightening in
the world's second-largest economy goes too far and hurts
economic growth. Such concerns have periodically put pressure on
global currencies and shares.
* Herbalife LTD shares were up 1.5 percent in
premarket trading a day after the nutritional-supplement company
reported fourth-quarter earnings.
* Kay Jewelers parent Signet Jewelers said it would acquire
smaller rival Zale Corp for $21 per share in cash, valuing the
mid-tier jeweler at about $690 million. The offer represents a
premium of about 41 percent to Zale's close of $14.91 on the New
York Stock Exchange on Tuesday. Shares of Signet
gained 13.9 percent in premarket trading while Zale
jumped more than 40 percent.
* On Tuesday, the Nasdaq Composite rose for an eighth
straight session, a run not seen since early July.