Market Hustle: Stock Futures Point Lower Ahead of Housing Starts

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stock futures pointed lower ahead of housing starts data due Wednesday, as key offshore markets declined.
  • Futures for the S&P 500 were falling 7.41 below fair value to 1830.25 while futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were 52.40 lower at 16,048.0. Futures for the Nasdaq were 12.33 lower at 3666.0.
  • Key economic data due before the market open includes housing starts and the producer price index at 8:30 a.m. EST. Expectations are for 950,000 housing starts in January after they fell by 9.8% in December. Bad weather is expected to have some impact on the result.
  • The Labor Department has overhauled the producer price index for the first time since 1978 to reflect the larger portion of the economy represented by retail, finance, education and health services.
  • Minutes of the Federal Reserve's Jan. 29 meeting be scrutinized at 2 p.m. for any hints on the direction of future monetary policy and the pace of stimulus wind-back.
  • Stocks expected to see price action Wednesday include Safeway , Tesla Motors and Carlyle Group , all of which are slated to post fourth-quarter earnings, along with MGM Resorts International and Garman . Shares in Potbelly fell in after-hours trading Tuesday after it posted a fourth-quarter loss of $3.68 million while shares of Herbalife were higher after it beat earnings per share estimates.
  • Markets closed mixed on Tuesday amid poor manufacturing data and homebuilding sentiment while M&A continued apace with a $25 billion deal in the biotech sector.
  • Germany's DAX was falling 0.34% while the U.K. FTSE was also 0.34% lower after worse-than-expected unemployment figures means the Bank of England faces less pressure to raise interest rates. In Japan the Nikkei finished down 0.52% while the Hang Seng was 0.34% higher. Chinese consumer confidence hit a record 11 as it rose in the final quarter of last year, according to a survey by Nielsen. Emerging market currencies were weaker amid anti-government protests in Thailand and the Ukraine.

-- Written by Jane Searle in New York