DJIA 0.31% 26,683 dow jones industrials

us stocks futures flat

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    NEW YORK, Feb 26 (Reuters) - U.S. stock futures were little
    changed on Tuesday after Home Depot Inc gave a glum
    outlook as the housing slump takes its toll, tempering optimism
    about efforts to stabilize bond insurers.

    Home Depot, the largest U.S. home improvement retailer,
    also reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit, a day
    after rival Lowe's Cos posted a 33 percent drop in
    profit. For details, see [ID:nL26907729]

    Investors were cautious before a slew of economic reports,
    including a reading for February on consumer confidence, data
    on December U.S. home prices and the Producer Price Index for
    January, which will be scrutinized for how much room the
    Federal Reserve will have to keep slashing interest rates.

    Even so, investors were likely to find comfort from news
    that Standard & Poor's had ended its downgrade review for MBIA
    Corp's top "AAA" rating, citing success by the world's
    largest U.S. bond insurer in raising new capital.

    The "AAA" ratings of Ambac Financial Group , the
    second largest bond insurer, were affirmed, based on S&P's
    assessment of the company's capital-raising plans and ability
    to implement. [ID:nL2643835]

    "The weakest part of the market has been the financials.
    People are really groping for a bottom," said Rick Meckler,
    president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in
    Jersey City, New Jersey.

    "There are a lot of positive factors, including the
    possible resolution of the monoline insurer situation and
    continued lower interest rates."

    S&P 500 futures were up 1.5 points, slightly above
    fair value, a mathematical formula that evaluates pricing by
    taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to
    expiration on the contract.

    Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 7 points,
    and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 5.8 points.

    MBIA said on Monday it will stop guaranteeing asset-backed
    securities, which are far riskier than its other business in
    municipal bonds, for six months. It also scrapped its dividend.
    [ID:nL2637865]

    Goldman Sachs raised its price targets on MBIA and Ambac on
    Tuesday. Investors worry that a credit downgrade of bond
    insurers could further harm the banking sector and stunt the
    global economy as financial institutions take a hit from
    subsequent write-downs of their assets.

    PPI data is due at 8:30 a.m. (1330 GMT), while the
    S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index is due at 9 a.m. (1400 GMT).
    Data on consumer confidence is due at 10 a.m. (1500 GMT).

    U.S. stocks rose more than 1 percent on Monday on signs the
    two largest bond insurers would stabilize.
 
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