Stocks: Ready to hold steady

@CNNMoneyInvest March 27, 2012: 9:17 AM ET
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks were expected to open little changed Tuesday, while world markets responded positively to indications that the Federal Reserve is prepared to keep interest rates at very low levels.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures were slightly negative. Stock futures indicate the possible direction of the markets when they open at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Investors head into Tuesday's session mulling the latest data on the troubled housing market, and awaiting a new reading on consumer confidence that's on tap.

A slew of reports released last week suggest that the housing market remains a drag on an economy that otherwise shows signs of improving.

On top of home price data from the Case-Shiller 20-City Index, investors will also look at corporate results from homebuilder Lennar for a reading on the sector.

In the afternoon, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke will deliver a lecture at George Washington University, and a House Financial Services subcommittee will hold a hearing on aid to the eurozone.

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U.S. stocks rallied Monday, after Bernanke's comments on the job market gave investors reason to believe the central bank will keep interest rates low.

World markets: European stocks were mixed in afternoon trading. Britain's FTSE 100 (UKX) was unchanged, the DAX (DAX) in Germany rose 0.6% and France's CAC 40 (CAC40) dropped 0.2%.

Asian markets ended mixed. The Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) shed 0.2%, the Hang Seng (HSI) in Hong Kong gained 1.8% and Japan's Nikkei (N225) jumped 2.4%.

Economy: Home prices in 20 major cities fell to the lowest level since 2002, according to S&P/Case-Shiller.

The index for January dropped 3.8%, after a 4.1% drop in the month prior.

The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index for March is expected to come in at 70.1, according to a survey of analysts by Briefing.com, down from 70.8 in February.

Companies: Lennar (LEN) posted earnings of 8 cents per share on revenue of $725 million, figures that topped analysts' estimates. The homebuilder said it has seen an uptick in sales and new orders in the first quarter. Shares were up 4% on the news.

Drug-store chain Walgreen (WAG, Fortune 500) reported earnings of 78 cents a share on $18.7 billion in revenue, slightly better than analyst estimates. Shares were up by 0.4% in premarket trading.

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Shares of private education provider Apollo Group (APOL, Fortune 500) dropped 6% in premarket trading, despite reporting earnings late Monday that beat Wall Street estimates.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar strengthened against the euro, the British pound and the Japanese yen.

Oil for May delivery rose 16 cents to $107.19 a barrel.

Gold futures for April delivery increased $7.40 to $1,693 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury increased, pushing the yield down to 2.23% from 2.25% late Monday. To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,356.87 288.00 1.69%
Nasdaq 4,644.31 96.48 2.12%
S&P 500 2,012.89 40.15 2.04%
Treasuries 2.15 0.00 0.00%
Data as of 8:34am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 17.26 0.00 0.00%
Apple Inc 109.41 2.66 2.50%
Cisco Systems Inc 26.81 0.22 0.85%
Microsoft Corp 45.74 0.58 1.28%
Halliburton Co 39.44 1.33 3.49%
Data as of Dec 17
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.07%4.07%
15 yr fixed3.13%3.09%
5/1 ARM3.22%3.08%
30 yr refi4.12%4.12%
15 yr refi3.19%3.16%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
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