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

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

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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
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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