NYSE Feb 28 2012
New York Stock Exchange. Reuters

U.S. stock index futures point to a mixed start to Tuesday's trading session on Wall Street, ahead of the publication of the House Price Index and the Consumer Confidence report, while the specter of the debt ceiling debate lingers in the background.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were flat while those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were up 0.12 percent.

Investors will be turning their attention to the publication of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, or FHFA’s, House Price Index, which will be released at 9 a.m. EDT. The index reflects the average change of house prices across the country or a certain region, using data provided by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The index is expected to remain steady at 0.7 percent in July.

The S&P/Case-Shiller House Price Index, which measures the change in the selling price of single-family homes in 20 metropolitan areas, is also due to be released at 9 a.m. EDT, and it is expected to show a reading of 12.4 percent in July, up from 12.1 percent recorded in the prior month.

Investors are also likely to focus on the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence report, which measures the level of consumer confidence in economic activity, scheduled to be released at 10 a.m. EDT. The index, which rose 0.5 points to reach 81.5 points in August, is expected to decline to 80 points in September.

European markets were trading up on Tuesday despite the IFO German business confidence index clocking in below expectations. The Stoxx Europe 600 index was up 0.16 percent while London’s FTSE 100 was up 0.3 percent and Germany's DAX-30 was trading up 0.26 percent. France's CAC-40 was trading up 0.5 percent.

The IFO institute’s business climate index nudged up to 107.7 points in September from a revised 107.6 reading in August, marking a fifth-straight month of gain, according to data released on Tuesday. However, the index fell short of analysts’ forecast, which had pegged it at 108 points.

In Asia, most markets traded lower on Tuesday with Japan’s Nikkei closing down 0.07 percent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 ended down 0.6 percent. In China, the Shanghai Composite index, which lost more than 1 percent in intra-day trade regained some lost ground to end 0.61 percent down.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index declined 0.82 percent and South Korea’s KOSPI Composite index closed down 0.12 percent, while India’s BSE Sensex was trading flat in late-afternoon trade.