Stock futures advanced this morning as investors await housing data, a Fed meeting, and a major vote on deposit taxes in Cyprus.
The Cypriot Parliament is still mulling a hugely controversial and almost universally unpopular tax on bank deposits to pay for its 10 billion euro bailout. A draft of the updated bill said that the country plans on going ahead with taxing up to 10% of bank deposits, but will exempt savings under 20,000 euros. The tiny country's central bank warned, however, that this mercy might mean that it won't reach the tax's 5.8 billion euro goal. A vote is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. local time, noon EDT.
Fitch, the ratings agency, put three Cyprus banks on negative watch amidst the crisis of confidence in the banking system. As the temporary bank holiday is extended through Thursday, Cypriots are lining up at ATMs to collect what money they can salvage.
The US Commerce Department reported that builders broke ground on homes at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 917,000, up from January's 910,000 rate. February's housing starts missed estimates by 2,000 Building permits sped up to 946,000 from 904,000, beating estimates by 44,000.
While the world waits for news from Nicosia, the Dow
(INDEXDJX:.DJI) is up slightly in premarket trading. This morning, futures are up 0.06% at 14,399 before the opening bell. S&P 500
(INDEXSP:.INX) futures rose 0.12% to 1,548.70 and Nasdaq
(INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures rose 0.10% to 2,789.75.
The euro was flat against the US dollar overnight. German investor confidence rose 0.3 percentage points to 48.5 this month, a three-year high for the index.
The yen fell slightly as Bank of Japan governor Masaaki Shirakawa officially left his post after five years, clearing the way for more radically dovish policy.
British consumer prices rose 2.8% on a yearly basis last month, the fastest rate of inflation in nine months.
The Federal Reserve starts its two-day monetary policy meeting this afternoon. At 2:00 p.m. EDT, the Fed will issue a statement on the meeting and Chairman Ben Bernanke will give a press conference at 2:30 p.m.
Investors are expecting the Fed to keep rates low and continue its asset purchase program at a steady level. In recent appearances, the Chairman assured investors that quatnitative easing isn't going anywhere any time soon. The Fed also agreed in December to tie interest rates to inflation and unemployment data.
Data from CoreLogic showed that the number of underwater homeowners fell by 200,000 on a quarterly basis in the fourth quarter. 10.4 million homeowners owe more on their homes than they can sell them for. In all, 1.7 million properties escaped negative equity in 2012.
(NYSE:BX) is considering outbidding rival Silver Lake in a bid for Dell
(NASDAQ:DELL). Dell is set to be bought out for $24.4 billion.
Shares of Electronic Arts
(NASDAQ:EA) shares rose 1.82 after CEO John Riccitello announced that he is leaving and accepts responsibility for the video-game maker's recent profit misses. The company also signaled that fiscal fourth quarter earnings might miss guidance numbers.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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