Stocks: Investors are sitting, waiting, wishing

@CNNMoneyInvest December 20, 2011: 9:00 AM ET

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks poised for higher open Tuesday, but investors remain cautious as they await developments in Europe.

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

U.S. stocks closed sharply lower Monday, as bank shares took a beating amid fresh concerns about the debt crisis in Europe.

Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) fell below $5 per share on Monday, its lowest level since the worst of the financial crisis in March 2009. Citigroup (C, Fortune 500), Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500), JPMorgan (JPM, Fortune 500), Morgan Stanley (MS, Fortune 500) and Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500) also fell sharply.

The sell off was driven by speculation that BofA and other big U.S. banks will need to raise more capital, said David Rovelli, managing director of U.S. equity trading at Canaccord Adams.

U.S. banks have been hit by concerns about their exposure to bonds issued by fragile governments in the eurozone. In addition, traders pointed to reports that tougher regulations on banks could come to pass sooner than expected.

Also on Monday, the European Central Bank warned that "contagion effects" have intensified, as borrowing costs have risen for larger euro-area governments -- a sign of the continuing difficulties facing the region.

World markets: European stocks were mixed in morning trading. Britain's FTSE 100 (UKX) shed 0.2%, while the DAX (DAX) in Germany added 0.8% and France's CAC 40 (CAC40) rose 0.9%.

Asian markets ended mixed. The Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) lost 0.1%, while the Hang Seng (HSI) in Hong Kong ticked up 0.1% and Japan's Nikkei (N225) edged higher 0.5%.

Economy: The Census Bureau released data showing both housing starts and building permits beat analysts' expectations.

New homes under construction hit an annual rate of 685,000 in November, with building permits rising 1.8% to 681,000 compared to last year.

Analysts surveyed by expected housing starts hit 627,000; with building permits to stand at 633,000 for November -- up from 628,000 and 653,000 respectively in the month prior.

Companies: Shares of Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) were up 1%, after the U.S. International Trade commission ruled Monday that the software in some of HTC's Android smartphones violated one provision of an Apple patent, and that those phones would no longer be allowed into the U.S.

Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) shares were up slightly, after the company said it would acquire a portfolio of solar photovoltaic (PV) facilities with KKR (KKR, Fortune 500). The deal brings Google's total investment in renewable energy projects to more than $915 million.

Food producer General Mills (GIS, Fortune 500) reported quarterly earnings of 76 cents per share, slightly missing estimates. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected earnings of 79 cents per share.

Fortune 500: Worst stocks of 2011

Late Monday, AT&T (T, Fortune 500) announced it had abandoned its $39 billion bid for T-Mobile, a deal that would have created by far the nation's largest wireless company.

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

Oil for January delivery rose 36 cents to $95.16 a barrel.

Gold futures for February delivery fell $8.90 to $1,605.60 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury was little changed, with the yield holding steady at 1.81% from late Monday.  To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 31,391.52 -143.99 -0.46%
Nasdaq 13,358.79 -230.04 -1.69%
S&P 500 3,870.29 -31.53 -0.81%
Treasuries 1.42 -0.03 -2.14%
Data as of 6:48pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Ford Motor Co 8.29 0.05 0.61%
Advanced Micro Devic... 54.59 0.70 1.30%
Cisco Systems Inc 47.49 -2.44 -4.89%
General Electric Co 13.00 -0.16 -1.22%
Kraft Heinz Co 27.84 -2.20 -7.32%
Data as of 2:44pm ET
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.80%3.88%
15 yr fixed3.20%3.23%
5/1 ARM3.84%3.88%
30 yr refi3.82%3.93%
15 yr refi3.20%3.23%
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