In the U.S.: Stock Futures Little Changed Before Confidence Data

27 March 2012

Modest start to the day after yesterday’s high. The discernible trend is clearly upward but expect some bumps along the way.

U.S. stock futures were little changed, following a rally that drove the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to the highest level since May 2008, as investors awaited data forecast to show consumer confidence slipped this month.

Bank of America Corp. slipped 0.8 percent after its shares were downgraded by Robert W. Baird & Co. Apollo Group Inc. (APOL), the biggest U.S. for-profit college company, slumped 6 percent amid concern over new enrollments. Lennar Corp. (LEN), the third- largest U.S. homebuilder by revenue, advanced 2.5 percent as earnings exceeded projections.

S&P 500 futures expiring in June fell less than 0.1 percent to 1,414.9 at 8:53 a.m. New York time. The benchmark measure for American equities had gained 1.7 percent over the previous two days. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures slipped 2 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 13,198 today.

Equity futures swung between gains and losses before data that may show home prices in 20 U.S. cities fell at a slower pace in the year to January. Consumer confidence in March fell as gas prices climbed, another report may show.

The S&P 500 yesterday erased last week’s decline after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said that accommodative monetary policy is still needed to spur jobs. The index has risen 3.7 percent in March, poised for a fourth straight monthly gain, the longest winning streak since 2009. It trades for 14.6 times (SPX) reported earnings, the highest valuation level since July while still below the average since 1954 of 16.4.

Lennar gained 2.5 percent to $27.05. Net income for the three months ending Feb. 29 fell to $15 million, or 8 cents a share, from $27.4 million, or 14 cents, a year earlier. Lennar was expected to earn about 5 cents a share, the average estimate of 20 analysts in a Bloomberg survey.


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