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Pre-Market Primer: Cyprus Mess Could Be Repeated in Other European Countries


Stocks are set to rise today on positive housing and durable goods orders.

Stocks headed higher this morning, reversing yesterday's loss as investors look forward to economic data confirming the recovery in housing.

Before the North American trading hours commenced, Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures were up 0.08% at 14,397. S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) futures rose 0.06% to 1,548.20 and Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures gained 0.14% to 2,788.25.

Durable goods orders increased by even more than expected. New orders rose 5.7% month-over-month in February, exceeding economists' prediction of 3.5%. January's numbers were revised for the better. A 5.2% fall was changed to a less steep 3.8% decline. Excluding transportation spending, durable orders fell 0.5%.

A report due at 10:00 a.m. might show that sales of new homes slowed to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 420,000 in February, down from 437,000 in the previous month. If economists' expectations are correct, that would be the best two consecutive months for new home sales in four years. The Case-Shiller/S&P home price index is expected to show that home prices increased by 7.9% from a year earlier in the 20 US cities that it tracks.

Cyprus banks are still under capital controls, and might remain so for several weeks. Branches are to remain closed though the country's Finance Minister said today that the tax on deposits over 100,000 euros will be 40%.

European investors were also spooked by comments by Jeroen Dijssenbloem, the head of the Eurogroup of finance ministers. The Dutch finance minister suggested that the controversial decision to tax bank deposits could be a template for future eurozone bailouts. Dijssenbloem later backtracked on those comments.

In the wake of Italy's inconclusive election, Pier Luigi Bersani will meet with Silvio Berlusconi's party to work on a deal that would allow the center left party to have nominal control of the government. Bersani's party won a plurality of seats, but can't govern without support from another party.

Standard & Poor's cut its estimate for the eurozone's GDP growth this year. Previously, it expected the region to contract by 0.1%, but due to signs of trouble in France among other countries, the analysts now believe GDP will shrink by 0.5%.

Haruhiko Kuroda, the new Bank of Japan governor, said that the central bank should include government bonds with longer maturities.

Yesterday, Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) announced that it will acquire Summly, a mobile app started by a British 17-year-old. The app summarizes news for small screens. This is the sixth startup that Yahoo bought since Marissa Mayer took over as CEO last summer. According to news reports, Yahoo might have paid about $30 million for the company.

Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) shares rose on reports that it is making headway in its negotiations with Time Warner (NYSE:TWC), Viacom (NASDAQ:VIA), and others to make a set-top box for paid online TV streaming.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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