Stock Futures Fall on China, Housing Data

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures pointed to a lower open Tuesday following mixed real estate data and signs of a cooling Chinese economy.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were falling 65 points, or 69.1 points below fair value, at 13,102. Futures for the S&P 500 were down 7.7 points, or 8 points below fair value, at 1396, and futures for the Nasdaq were behind by 12.5 points, or 14 points below fair value, at 2715.

U.S. stocks posted gains Monday following a lukewarm housing report and Apple's ( AAPL) announcement of how it would deploy its massive cash pile.

The Commerce Department reported Tuesday that February housing starts fell to a 698,000 annual pace from an upwardly revised 706,000 clip the previous month. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters were expecting the number to come in at 700,000. The bureau also reported that building permits for February rose to a notably better than expected 717,000 rate, from 682,000 in January. Economists were expecting building permits to come in at a 690,000 rate.

"Starts were helped by the 21.1% gain in multi-family, while single-family declined 9.9%, a very sharp loss," said Ian Lyngen, a senior strategist at CRT.

"The data offered bullish and bearish aspects."

Separately, mining giants BHP Billiton ( BHP) and Rio Tinto ( RIO) both warned of a cooling Chinese economy.

David Joyce, managing director of expansion projects at Rio Tinto, said Tuesday at a conference in Perth, Australia, that "the rate of GDP gross domestic product growth in China is more immediately slowing ... we remain confident on the basis of the figures we have seen, of a soft landing, with solid growth for this year," according to Bloomberg.

BHP's president of iron ore, Ian Ashby, warned of slowing Chinese iron ore demand growth as the country tries to cool its economy.

China also said, starting on Tuesday, it was raising retail gasoline and diesel prices a larger-than-expected 6% to 7%, the sharpest increase in 33 months amid higher oil crude oil prices.

Global stocks and commodities were declining following the news out of China.

London's FTSE was shedding 0.99%, and Germany's DAX was off 1.31%. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei Average settled up 0.12% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index finished behind by 1.08%.

May oil futures were down $1 to $107.56 a barrel, while April gold futures were falling $19.70 to $1,647.60 an ounce.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was adding 9/32, lowering the yield to 2.349%, while the U.S. dollar index was up 0.3% to $79.74.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

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