NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were pointing to a higher open Wednesday, with the S&P 500 poised to extend a two-month high as investors remained optimistic about a deal on the U.S. "fiscal cliff" and confidence rose over the nascent housing market recovery.
Also helping to lift sentiment was stronger-than-anticipated data on German business confidence, with Germany's Ifo survey indicating that sentiment advanced for the second straight month in December.
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 37 points, or 37.04 points above fair value, at 13,313. Futures for the S&P 500 were up 4.75 points, or 5.56 points above fair value, at 1445. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 9.50 points, or 11.21 points above fair value, at 2711.
"A stronger euro ... an approaching fiscal deal should continue to fuel the year-end rally which we believe will take the indices higher in these last trading days of the year," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital.Major U.S. stock averages soared Tuesday as signs of progress on the "fiscal cliff" talks and improving homebuilder confidence lifted investors' spirits. House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday and proposed a so-called "Plan B," which the White House subsequently rejected. Stocks continued to climb despite the political posturing. The Census Bureau reported Wednesday that housing starts declined to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 861,000 in November from a downwardly revised 888,000 units in October. Economists, on average, had expected a rate of 873,000 for November. Building permits rose to a pace of 899,000 in November from an upwardly revised 868,000 in October. Expectations called for an increase to a pace of 875,000 in November. "Housing starts were slightly lower than expected while the level of building permits -- a useful gauge of the future health of the housing market -- rose to the strongest since July 2008," noted Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak. "The level of starts fell for the first time in three months yet there is little question about the momentum that has characterized the homebuilding market for more than two years." Overseas markets showed strength amid hopes that a U.S. budget deal will be reached before Jan. 1 in Washington. The FTSE 100 in London was up 0.63% and the DAX in Germany was higher by 0.27%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index finished higher by 0.57% and the Japan's Nikkei average settled up 2.39%. Gold for February delivery was up 70 cents at $1,671.40 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while February crude oil contracts were up 36 cents at $88.76 a barrel. The benchmark 10-year Treasury was rising 5/32, diluting the yield to 1.806%. The dollar was off 0.28%, according to the
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