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US Stocks Seen Lower on Cyprus Fears


U.S. stock index futures indicated a lower open on Wednesday, with upward momentum from Tuesday's upbeat U.S. housing data pared by renewed euro zone fears focused on Cyprus.


Cyprus is finalizing financial control measures on Wednesday to prevent a run on its banks, which have been shut for a week since the country agreed to a conditional 10 billion euro ($12.8 billion) bailout from international lenders.


Cypriot Finance Minister Michael Sarris said he expected the control measures to be ready by 10:00 a.m CET.


"Banks will open on Thursday ... We will look at the best way to limit the possibility of large sums of money leaving, and not imposing punitive conditions on the economy, businesses and individuals," Sarris said in an interview on Cypriot television.


"You can't leave your money in the bank, that's the lesson we're learning now with Cyprus. Why leave your money in an interest-bearing bank account when you never know, the bank could fail. Why not buy something that central banks can't print?" Euro Pacific Capital's Peter Schiff told CNBC.


Wednesday will be a quiet day for corporate earnings, with Paychex and Red Hat posting results after the U.S. closing bell.


Instead, housing market indicators will be in focus, after Tuesday's upbeat S&P/Case Shiller home price index.


The MBA Mortgage Index for last week is out at 7 a.m. ET on Wednesday, followed at 10 a.m. by the National Association of Realtors' monthly pending home sales, measuring contracts signed but not closed. Economists polled by Reuters expect a 0.9 percent fall in February, compared with a 4.5 percent rise in January.


Meanwhile, crude oil inventories for last week will be released by the Energy Department at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday. Inventories rose by 1.31 million in the prior week.


Stocks ended near their best ever levels on Tuesday, with the Dow posting a new high and S&P 500 finishing less than 2 points from its closing peak.