(Corrects to show housing starts dipped from prior month, not
* Putin tells parliament he does not want more of Ukraine
* Fed in view as two-day meeting set to begin
* Hertz rises in premarket, GameStop slumps
* Futures up: Dow 50 pts, S&P 5.6 pts, Nasdaq 8.5 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, March 18 U.S. stock index futures
pointed to a higher open on Tuesday, indicating the previous
day's rally would continue after comments from Russian President
Vladimir Putin eased concerns that tensions over Ukraine might
In an address to the Russian parliament, Putin said Russia
didn't want Ukraine to be divided further, and that he did not
want to seize more of the country after approving plans to make
Crimea part of Russia following a disputed referendum.
Late Monday, the United States and the European Union
imposed personal sanctions on a handful of officials from Russia
and Ukraine who were accused of involvement in Moscow's military
seizure of the Black Sea peninsula, in the biggest crisis
between Russia and the United States since the end of the Cold
While few U.S. companies have heavy exposure to the region,
investors are worried that tensions could mount, or that Russia
may respond to the sanctions with actions of its own.
"The market is reflecting relief that this isn't going to
escalate into a confrontation that could be messy and that would
have an undetermined outcome," said Mark Luschini, chief
investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in
S&P 500 futures rose 5.6 points and 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 rose 50
points and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 8.5 points.
Investors were also looking ahead to a two-day meeting of
the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy-setting committee, which
begins Tuesday. The central bank is not expected to deviate from
previously announced policy plans, but as the Fed's stimulus has
kept a floor under equity prices, market participants will be
attuned to any hint of a change.
In the latest economic data, consumer prices rose 0.1
percent in February, as expected, while housing starts fell
modestly from the previous month.
In company news, Hertz Global Holdings Inc said it
would spin off its equipment rental business for $2.5 billion,
and that part of the proceeds would be used to fund a stock
buyback program. Shares rose 2.3 percent to $27.80 in premarket
General Motors Co announced new recalls of 1.5
million vehicles on Monday. In an unprecedented public admission
by a GM chief executive, Mary Barra acknowledged the company
fell short in catching faulty ignition switches linked to 12
deaths. Shares rose 0.2 percent to $34.70 before the bell.
GameStop Corp shares fell 8.8 percent to $36.25 in
premarket trading after Wal-Mart Stores Inc said it
would allow shoppers to trade in used videogames for anything
from groceries to gadgets.
American Express Co said late Monday four financial
investors had committed a total of $900 million to a business
travel joint venture, the largest single investment ever made in
a travel management company.
Major U.S. indexes rose about 1 percent on Monday as
tensions with Ukraine appeared to ease. The rally continued a
recent trend of investors using market pullbacks as buying
opportunities following a 2 percent decline in the S&P 500 last
week. Key indexes have not had a sustained drop in more than a
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)