Stock Futures Waver Ahead of Consumer Confidence


NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures pointed to a lower open Tuesday as investors digested a disappointing read on home prices and awaited data on consumer confidence.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 17 points, or 12.3 points above fair value, at 13,183. Futures for the S&P 500 were down 2 points, or 1.8 points above fair value, at 1412. Futures for the Nasdaq were down 3 points, or 0.3 point above fair value, at 2774.

Gains on Monday canceled out all losses from the prior week, as some investors took Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's warnings on long-term unemployment to mean that another round of economic stimulus may be on its way. The Dow rose 1.2% on Monday, the S&P gained 1.4%, while the Nasdaq, gaining 1.8%, posted its highest close in more than 10 years.

On Tuesday, the S&P Case-Shiller home price index showed that U.S. home prices fell 0.8% in January and 3.8% annually. Economists according to Thomson Reuters expected prices to inch higher by 0.2% during January, making for a drop of 3.7% compared to the same time last year.

At 10 a.m., the Conference Board's consumer confidence index is expected to read 70.4 in March, slightly lower than 70.8 in February. The last time consumer confidence levels were this high was in February of last year.

On Tuesday, Germany's DAX was up 0.4% while London's FTSE was down 0.16%. The Hong Kong Hang Seng closed up 1.83% while the Nikkei Average in Japan finished higher by 2.36% overnight.

In corporate news, Oclaro ( OCLR) agreed to acquire peer Opnext ( OPXT) for stock. The deal calls for Oclaro to swap 0.42 of a share for each Opnext share. Opnext shares were soaring 54% to $1.74 in premarket trading Tuesday.

Eye care company Bausch & Lomb agreed to acquire Ista Pharmaceuticals ( ISTA) for roughly $500 million in cash to expand its eye health portfolio. The acquisition price of $9.10 a share represents a 9% premium to Ista's closing price on Monday. Ista shares were surging 8.4% to $9.08.

Apollo Group ( APOL), the for-profit education company, trounced Wall Street's fiscal second-quarter expectations. Apollo reported earnings from continuing operations excluding items of $73.8 million, or 58 cents a share, for the three months ended Feb. 29 on revenue of $969.6 million. Analysts expected profit of 37 cents a share on revenue of $933.3 million. Apollo, the operator of the University of Phoenix, said new degreed enrollment rose 1% in the quarter from a year earlier. Shares were losing 6% to $40.60.

Homebuilder Lennar ( LEN) reported first-quarter earnings of $15 million, or 8 cents a share, down from $27.4 million, or 14 cents a share. a year earlier. Still, the company's per-share earnings beat the average estimate of 4 cents a share, according to a Thomson Reuters survey of analysts. Shares were gaining 2.7% to $27.10.

Walgreen ( WAG) reported fiscal second-quarter earnings Tuesday of 78 cents a share on sales of $18.7 billion. Analysts were expecting profit of 77 cents a share on sales of $18.58 billion. The company said the effect of no longer being part of the Express Scripts ( ESRX) pharmacy provider network as of Jan. 1, 2012, impacted earnings by 7 cents a share. Shares were up 0.4% to $34.51.

United Technologies' ( UTX) proposed $18.4 billion acquisition of Goodrich ( GR) is receiving an in-depth investigation from the European Commission because of competition concerns.

May oil futures were up 20 cents to $107.23. In other commodities, April gold futures were up $6.10 to $1691.70 an ounce.

The dollar index was 0.06% lower. The benchmark 10-year Treasury was flat with the yield at 2.251%.

-- Written by Chao Deng in New York.

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