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wall street futures rise

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    FRANKFURT, Feb 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose
    before the start of Wall Street trading on Tuesday, with
    financial stocks likely to be in focus after news of further
    write-downs on risky assets at two big European banks.

    The Wall Street Journal also reported that U.S. investment
    bank Lehman Brothers believes it is facing a write-down
    in the $1.3 billion range amid signs its latest quarter will be
    the rockiest since the mortgage crisis began.

    Lehman's Frankfurt-listed shares were down 3.1
    percent at 1025 GMT.

    The Financial Times reported that banks in the United States
    have been borrowing nearly $50 billion of one-month funds from
    the U.S. Federal Reserve in recent weeks, using the Fed's Term
    Auction Facility (TAF), which allows banks to borrow at
    relatively attractive rates against a wide range of assets.

    "The financial crisis could be in the spotlight because of
    fears that banks may have to make more write-downs related to
    the big U.S. bond insurers," Commerzbank said in a note.

    U.S. bond insurers, which guarantee more than $2.4 trillion
    of debt, have been hit hard by the sub-prime lending crisis.

    On Monday, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ)
    , Australia's third-biggest lender, said it may face a
    $200 million hit on a derivative position with a U.S. monoline
    insurer which had been downgraded to non-investment grade.

    On Tuesday, British bank Barclays raised its 2007
    write-down on the value of risky assets to $3.12 billion, and
    Swiss bank Credit Suisse said it had marked down the
    value of its asset-backed investments by $2.85 billion.

    At 1025 GMT, Dow Jones futures were up 0.6 percent,
    S&P 500 <.SPc1> futures were up 0.5 percent, and Nasdaq futures
    traded 0.8 percent higher.

    The indicative Dow Jones index <.DJII>, which tracks how the
    Dow stocks are traded in Frankfurt, was up 0.2 percent.

    S&P 500 companies scheduled to report quarterly earnings on
    Tuesday include Hewlett-Packard , the world's largest
    personal computer maker, and Wal-Mart Stores , the
    world's No. 1 retailer.

    Hewlett-Packard is expected to report fiscal first-quarter
    earnings per share (EPS) of $0.81, up from $0.65 in the year-ago
    period, and Wal-Mart's EPS is seen rising to $1.01 from $0.93,
    according to Reuters data.

    The economic indicators diary has the National Association
    of Home Builders' (NAHB) housing market index for February at
    1800 GMT. Economists polled by Reuters expect a reading of 19,
    unchanged from January.

    "We'll have no real figures to push the market in one or the
    other direction, and the newsflow is calm," said Heinz-Gerd
    Sonnenschein, equity strategist at Postbank in Germany.

    U.S. markets were closed for a holiday on Monday.
 
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