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BlackBerry Ltd Goes Private; Housing Indicators, Earnings Are in the Spotlight

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Plus, Citigroup announces layoffs in the southwest.

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Stocks were mostly flat this morning following three days of declines as investors await housing and consumer confidence numbers.

Before the opening bell, Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures were down 0.01% at 15,325. Futures contracts on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) fell 0.09% to 1,691.20 and Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures rose 0.09% to 3,212.00.

At 10 a.m., the Conference Board's consumer confidence survey will hit the wires. Experts predict that the index fell 1.5 points to 80 in September.

There will also be plenty of fresh information on the housing market. At 9 a.m., the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index will probably show more evidence of the recovery. Economists predict that in July, prices in the 20 cities that the index tracks rose 0.8% monthly or 12.4% annually. The FHFA's own home price index will be released at the same time. It is expected to show a 0.8% rise in July after gaining 0.7% in June.

Lennar (NYSE:LEN), the home builder, reported earnings of $0.54 per share in the third quarter, up from $0.40 in the year earlier as revenue strengthened in the housing market recovery. Sales rose 46% to $1.6 billion.

Red Hat Inc. (NYSE:RHT) shares fell 10.5% in the pre-market after the company reported disappointing earnings. Red Hat, which provides enterprise software for data centers, beat earnings expectations, but annualized billings declined from a year earlier.

Citigroup (NYSE:C) announced that it will lay off 1,000 mortgage employees in the southwest as fewer customers are refinancing.

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) shares popped 2% as Citigroup analysts upgraded the social network to buy from neutral. The analysts made the call based on increasing usage of Facebook on mobile devices.

Chrysler, which is currently 58.5% owned by Fiat SpA (OTCMKTS:FIATY), filed to sell $100 million of stock on the public market. The United Auto Workers are in disagreement with Fiat over the value of its stake, however, and pricing is not yet certain. JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) will be the lead underwriter for the IPO.

BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) will soon exit public trading. The Canadian smartphone maker will go private for $9 per share or $4.7 billion.

Equities were lower in China, but positive in Europe. Germany's IFO survey showed a small uptick in business sentiment, the fifth-straight monthly increase. The index rose to 107.7 this month from 107.6 in August, but trailed expectations for a larger rise.

Disclosure: Minyanville Studios, a division of Minyanville Media, has a business relationship with BlackBerry.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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