Stock futures edge higher after seven-week rally
By Chuck Mikolajczak | February 19, 2013 11:42 PM EST
Stock index futures edged higher on Tuesday, indicating the S&P 500 will build on its seven-week winning streak ahead of data on the housing market.
* The S&P 500 <.SPX> has risen for seven straight weeks, its longest streak since January 2011, and is up 6.6 percent for the year.
* The strong start to the year was fueled by legislators in Washington averting a series of automatic spending cuts and tax hikes that were set to take effect on January 1, as well as better-than-expected corporate earnings and data that pointed to modest economic improvement but no immediate change in the Federal Reserve's stimulus plans.
* But further gains for the benchmark S&P index have been a struggle recently as investors look for new catalysts to lift the index as it hovers near five-year highs.
* Economic data on tap includes the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo housing market index for February at 10 a.m. (1500 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey expect a reading of 48 compared with 47 in January.
* Improving housing data has been cited by analysts as one of the key factors in the equity market rally.
* S&P 500 futures rose 1.4 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 18 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 5.25 points.
* Office Depot Inc
* Computer-maker Dell
* An investor bid to break up Hess Corp's
* European shares rose on Tuesday, lifted by gains at food group Danone
* Philippine and Australian shares scaled new heights but other Asian shares were mixed, with worries about the risk of an inconclusive outcome in Italy's election and U.S. budget talks limiting the upside after strong rallies in early February.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)
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