Futures point to higher open for Wall Street

 @ibtimes on February 23 2010 6:32 AM

Wall Street is set to open higher on Tuesday, according to stock index futures, with investors awaiting macroeconomic data such as house price trends, as well as several corporate updates.

At 0948 GMT (4:48 a.m. EST), futures for the Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq were up between 0.3 and 0.4 percent.

The FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of leading European shares was up 0.1 percent at 1,024.32 points, paring gains after a key German index of business sentiment unexpectedly fell.

The S&P Case-Shiller house price index of 20 major U.S. cities is expected to have fallen 3.2 percent in December from a year earlier, which would be a solid improvement from the 5.3 percent fall registered in November and up from a record fall of 19 percent in January last year.

Consumer confidence data is expected to show consumers are a little less upbeat. The Conference Board, an industry group, is expected to report that its February consumer sentiment index slipped to 55.0 from 55.9 in January, which was the highest since September of 2008.

In a busy day for retail results, the focus will be on how they fared over the holiday period. Investors in Target , the No 2 U.S. discount retailer, will want to know if efforts to boost sales by touting low prices and adding a wider selection of food are paying off in the current quarter.

Top U.S. bookseller Barnes & Noble reports results for the first full period that will reflect sales of its Nook e-reader device.

Other retailers to report include department store operator Macy's , home improvement chain Home Depot and Sears .

Toyota Motor Corp's <7203.T> woes deepened ahead of its testimony to Congress on safety issues, as it revealed it faces a U.S. criminal probe into the handling of its massive recalls, while Japan voiced concern over the economic impact of the automaker's problems.

U.S. stocks finished flat on Monday as investors held back before congressional testimony by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, while scattered buying lifted shares of health insurers and banks.

Shares of Nordstrom Inc fell in extended trading on Monday after the retailer reported quarterly results.

(Reporting by Brian Gorman, editing by Will Waterman)

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