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Futures Hold Losses After Housing Starts Report

Stock index futures held their losses Tuesday following a weaker-than-expected housing starts report and as investors seemed to take a breather following a sharp rally in the previous sessions.

Housing starts declined 1.1 percentin February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 698,000 units, but building permits jumped to their highest level in more than 3 years, according to the Commerce Department.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected housing starts to be little changed at a 700,000-unit rate. January's starts were revised up to a 706,000-unit pace from a previously reported 699,000 unit rate.

BHP Billiton tumbled after the world's largest miner said it was seeing signs of "flattening" iron ore demand from China, raising concerns over the nation's economic outlook, though temporarily it was pushing ahead with plans to expand production. Rival Rio Tinto also declined.

Apple closed above $600 a share for the first time in the previous session after the tech giant announced an annual dividend and approved a buyback program. In addition, at least five brokerages raised their price targets on the iPad maker.

Bank of America will also be in the spotlight after the group said it had no intention of introducing additional equityin a secondary offering, contrary to rumors, which swayed its stock.

Tiffany & Co rallied after the upscale jewelry retailer forecast higher sales for 2012, thanks to further expansion in Asia and the Americas.

And Michael Kors also jumped after the retailer posted strong sales and raised its earnings outlook.

Adobe Systems tumbled after the software company said revenue growth slowed as sales of its Creative Suite software declined. Meanwhile, Jefferies raised its price target on the firm to $38 from $34.

Oracle is slated to post earnings after-the-bell tonight.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner gives testimony on the international financial system at 10 a.m. New York time, and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gives a lecture at 12:45 p.m.

—Follow JeeYeon Park on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC

Coming Up This Week:

TUESDAY: Bernanke speaks, Fed's Kocherlakota speaks; Earnings from Oracle
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps, existing home sale, oil inventories, HP annual mtg, Starbucks annual mtg; Earnings from General Mills, Discover Financial
THURSDAY: Jobless claims, FHFA home price index, leading indicators, Green Mountain Coffee shareholders mtg; Earnings from FedEx, Dollar General, Gamestop, Lululemon, Nike, Accenture
FRIDAY: New home sales, Fed's Lockhart speaks, Fed's Bullard speaks; Earnings from Darden Restaurants

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