Futures Hold Gains After News on Home Prices

U.S. stock index futures were higher and largely unchanged after a report showing housing prices remain lower over the past year.

Futures had made modest gains ahead of the open Tuesday following a mixed close in the previous session, but severe winter weather in the Northeast is likely to see light trading volumes continue.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price indexfell 1.3 percent in October from the month before, as home prices continue to fall in all cities.

New York City and the surrounding areas struggled to clear Monday's heavy snow fall and to get transport services back up and running. Retailers will be hoping the harsh conditions won't dent post-holiday sales more.

Oil prices rose slightly to trade just shy of a 26-month high of $91.88, aided in part by a weaker dollar. The U.S. currency fell against a basket of currenciesTuesday, reaching a low against the Swiss franc.

On the economic front, the October Case-Shiller 20-city composite home-price index will be released at 9 a.m. Economists expect the index will rise 0.1 percent, according to Briefing.com.

The Conference Board's measure of December consumer confidence will be released at 10 a.m.

Prices could get a boost over the next two days as the Federal Reserve buys $10 billion to $14 billion as part of its Permanent Open Market Operations to drive down rates and boost liquidity.

Just over a month after it's initial public offering, General Motors was lavished with positive ratings by Wall Street brokerages.

In company news, American International Group could net up to $3 billion as it tries again to sell its Taiwan insurance unit. AIG shares rose 3 percent in premarket trading.

In other news, President Barack Obama is expected to announce his choice for the White House's top economic advisor on his return from the holiday break.

And the Nasdaq OMX Group will again attempt to establish a market in Japan with the Osaka Securities Exchange, according to a report.

European shares were mostly higher with health care and technology stocks leading the gains. Volumes were also light with the UK market closed for a public holiday. The French market was higher despite the country's gross domestic product growth for the second and third quarter being revised down slightly.

Asian indexes closed mixed with many investors taking profits in the wake of China's interest rate hike over the weekend.

On Tap For Next Week:

TUESDAY: S&P Case-Shiller home price index, consumer confidence, Richmond Fed business activity survey, 5-yr note auction.
WEDNESDAY: MBA mortgage applications, oil inventories, 7-yr note auction.
THURSDAY: Jobless claims, Chicago PMI, pending home sales, farm prices, money supply, Massey CEO Blankenship retires.
FRIDAY: No major economic data expected.

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