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US STOCKS-Futures flat with indexes near highs; data awaited

Ryan Vlastelica
Tuesday, 26 Nov 2013 | 7:51 AM ET

* Few catalysts seen with indexes near all-time highs

* Consumer confidence, home prices data both on tap

* Tiffany & Co rises after results, JA Solar falls

* Futures: Dow up 1 pt, S&P up 1.5 pt, Nasdaq up 1.5 pt

NEW YORK, Nov 26 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Tuesday, as investors looked ahead to upcoming economic data to see whether the recent equity rally has been justified.

Wall Street has soared this year, with major indexes hitting repeated all-time highs. As the rally has come without pronounced declines, many investors have called for a pullback amid few signs of robust economic growth.

"We're fairly valued in the longer term, but it wouldn't be surprising to see short-term corrections since right now there's no reason to jump into the market in full force," said Mike Sorrentino, the New York-based chief strategist of the Global Financial Private Capital.

Insight into the economy's strength will come with the release of November consumer confidence data at 10:00 a.m. EST (1500 GMT). Confidence is seen rising to 72.9 from 71.2 last month, and will be closely watched for any insight into the upcoming holiday shopping season.

Tiffany & Co rose in premarket trading after the luxury retailer reported third-quarter sales that topped expectations and raised its forecast for full-year profit.

"Consumer confidence could be material given that we're going into Black Friday. I have some concerns about discretionary spending for low-end consumers, though the high-end segment looks pretty good," said Sorrentino, who has a position in Tiffany.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, tends to kick off the start of the holiday shopping season in the United States.

Trading is expected to be light this week, likely amplifying volatility, with financial markets closed Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday. Markets will also close early on Friday.

Separately, the September CaseShiller read on home prices is due at 9:00 a.m., with prices seen rising 0.8 percent.

S&P 500 futures rose 1.5 point and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures added 1 point and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 1.5 point.

In company news, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that at least six major private equity groups are competing to buy the industrial packaging segment of Illinois Tool Works Inc, in a deal that could fetch more than $3 billion.

JA Solar Holdings Co Ltd edged lower in premarket trading after the company reported a quarterly loss that narrowed from the previous year.

Macquarie raised its view on the coal sector, upgrading Peabody Energy Corp to "outperform" from "neutral," and boosting its price target on both Arch Coal Inc and Cloud Peak Energy Inc.

Wall Street has been on a tear recently, with both the Dow and S&P 500 rising for seven straight weeks. The S&P is up 26.4 percent this year, while the Nasdaq moved above 4,000 on Monday for the first time in 13 years.

The gains have largely come on the back of expectations for continued stimulus from the Federal Reserve, and while the central bank's program is expected to provide a floor for equity prices for as long as it continues, some recent market volatility has been related to uncertainty over when the program will end.

The Fed has said it would begin to slow the program when economic growth meets its targets, putting some of the market's focus on data.

U.S. stocks closed little changed on Monday, with energy shares pressured by a decline in oil prices, though Wal-Mart Stores rose after naming a new chief executive.

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TIF
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JASO
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