US STOCKS-Futures slip; results lift Home Depot in premarket

by Reuters
Tuesday, 25 February 2014 12:20 GMT

* Markets seek direction after rise to all-time high

* Home Depot shares gain in premarket after results

* Data on consumer confidence, home prices on tap

* Futures down: Dow 30 pts, S&P 3.3 pts, Nasdaq 5 pts

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, Feb 25 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures edged lower on Tuesday, with investors finding few reasons to buy following a rally that took the S&P 500 to an all-time intraday high.

* Monday's advance to record levels fully erased the S&P's biggest pullback in more than a year and raised new questions about what catalysts will drive shares decisively higher from here. Despite Monday's climb, Wall Street ended off its highs and the S&P failed to close at a record.

* While the market's upward trend is still viewed as intact, valuation concerns have been raised following a string of economic data that has come in below forecasts. While many analysts pin the weakness to harsh winter weather rather than weakening fundamentals, trading are looking for evidence the market's levels are justified.

* Market participants will be closely monitoring February consumer confidence data, due out at 10:00 a.m. EST (1500 GMT), as well as a read on home prices with December CaseShiller data at 8:30 a.m. Confidence is seen dipping slightly from the prior month, while home prices are seen rising 0.6 percent.

* In a positive note, Home Depot Inc rose 1.6 percent to $79.15 in premarket trading after the Dow component reported earnings that beat expectations, though sales fell more than expected in the fourth quarter.

* Many traders are looking ahead to Thursday, when Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will speak to the Senate Banking Committee in a semi-annual testimony about monetary policy. The comments will be scoured for insight into the extent to which bad weather has affected economic activity, as well as for confirmation that the Fed will not make any changes to its schedule for trimming stimulus.

* S&P 500 futures fell 3.3 points and were below 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 lost 30 points and Nasdaq 100 futures slid 5 points.

* Tenet Healthcare Corp late Monday swung to a net loss in its fourth quarter, though adjusted earnings were better than expected.

* Biocryst Pharmaceuticals Inc rose 3.3 percent to $11.99 in light premarket trading after the company said the Food and Drug Administration had accepted the New Drug Application for its Peramivir product.

* Sina Corp shares fell in premarket trading a day after the company reported adjusted earnings that beat estimates by a penny, even as revenue jumped 43 percent.

* SolarCity Corp, the largest residential solar installer in the United States, said it expects to install fewer panels in a seasonally weak first quarter due to cold weather.

* Perry Ellis International Inc late Monday forecast a fall in quarterly revenue, sending shares sharply lower after the market closed.

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