US STOCKS-Futures edge higher after selloff, but concerns remain

by Reuters
Tuesday, 25 March 2014 11:39 GMT

* Expectations rise for Chinese gov't stimulus

* Walt Disney to buy Maker Studios for $500 mln

* Data on housing, consumer confidence on tap

* Futures up: Dow 22 pts, S&P 3.1 pts, Nasdaq 6 pts

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, March 25 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures edged higher on Tuesday, implying a modest rebound off the previous session's decline, though investors continued to watch global issues with caution.

* Major indexes fell on Monday on concerns that the crisis in Ukraine could escalate. However, the selling was concentrated in the Nasdaq, which fell under its 50-day moving average, as traders took profits in some of the market's recent standouts.

* The Dow ended with only slight losses, a sign that while investors were taking money off the table, they were still finding value in more established names like Procter & Gamble . The CBOE Volatility Index, a gauge of investor anxiety, closed barely higher on Monday and remains at historically low levels.

* The conflict over Ukraine continued with leaders of the Group of Seven nations warning Russia that it faced further sanctions if Russian President Vladimir Putin took further action to destabilize Ukraine following the seizure of Crimea.

* While few U.S. companies have direct exposure to the region, market participants are concerned about the fallout from any escalation in what is already the biggest confrontation between the United States and Russia since the Cold War.

* Investors also continued to look to China, with expectations growing that the nation's government would intervene to support its economy following a series of economic reports that imply the weakest growth in China since the global financial crisis.

* S&P 500 futures rose 3.1 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 added 22 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 6 points.

* Economic data on tap for Tuesday includes the January S&P/Case-Shiller report on home prices at 9:00 a.m. (1300 GMT) as well as February new home sales data and the Conference Board consumer confidence index for March scheduled for release at 10:00 a.m.

* Home prices are seen rising 0.7 percent in the month, while new home sales are expected to slow slightly from January. The consumer confidence index is seen rising to 78.6 from 78.1.

* In company news, Walt Disney Co agreed to buy Maker Studios, one of YouTube's largest networks, for $500 million, though the price tag could rise to $950 million if the company hits certain performance milestones.

* McCormick & Co reported its first-quarter results and said unfavorable foreign currency exchange rates would reduce its 2014 sales by 1 percent.

* Internet and biotech stocks will remain in focus following their tumble on Monday. Facebook Inc, one of the market's biggest decliners on Monday with a drop of 4.7 percent, rose 0.8 percent to $64.60 in premarket trading.

* Over the past four sessions, the Nasdaq biotechnology index has lost 9 percent. (Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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