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Pre-Market Primer: Stocks Lower Ahead of Consumer Confidence, Fed Meeting


The housing market is also looking forward to more signs of improvement today.

Stocks are lower this morning ahead of fresh data on the housing market and consumer confidence.

Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures were down 0.22% at 13,803. Futures contracts on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) fell 0.35% to 1,491.70 and Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures dropped 0.32% to 2,728.75.

At 9:00 a.m. EST, the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index for November will be released. Economists expect the index to show a second-straight 0.7% monthly rise in home prices in 20 cities that it studies. On a yearly basis, prices probably rose 5.8%. Also on tap later this morning is the Conference Board's January consumer confidence index, which is projected to remain flat at 65.1 after falling 6.4 points in December.

Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) reported an 8% drop in profits and a 2% rise in revenue for the fourth quarter yesterday. Shares rose 2% after Yahoo announced profit of $272 million, or $0.33 per share, beating analyst estimates. Revenue rose by $30 million to $1.35 billion, though online display advertising declined 5% from a year earlier. The company projects $1.07 in revenue for the current quarter.

(See also: Will Yahoo Get Back to the Future by Returning to Its Tech Roots?)

Ford (NYSE:F) shares fell 1% after announcing its highest quarterly profit in over 10 years. The company earned $1.7 billion, or $0.31 per share, which beat estimates by three pennies. For the year, Ford earned $8.34 in North America, driven by truck sales. Due to losses in its European operations, however, the automaker booked $5.7 billion in profit.

Shares of VMware (VMW), which makes software that lets computers run more than one operating system, fell 16.8% after it said that first quarter revenue will miss analyst estimates.

Germany's forward-looking GfK consumer sentiment index rose to 5.8 points for February from 5.7 this month, beating expectations. German economic expectations swung to -11.3 from -17.9 last month, showing that the index's downward trend is abating.

Japan's small business confidence improved for a second straight month in January. The Shoko Chukin Bank's index of small-business confidence rose to 44.3 from 43.8 in December when the new government was elected.

The US Federal Reserve begins its two-day policy meeting today. According a to a Bloomberg poll of economists, the latest round of bond buying will end in the first quarter of 2014, topping out at $1.14 trillion. The Fed is currently buying $40 billion of mortgage bonds and $45 billion of Treasuries every month.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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