Bloomberg News

U.S. Stock-Index Futures Maintain Gains as Housing Starts Jump

December 20, 2011

Dec. 20 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stock-index futures maintained gains after housing starts jumped more than economists’ forecast in November, signaling the market may be stabilizing. Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring in March climbed 1 percent to 1,211.5 at 8:32 a.m. in New York.

Housing starts increased 9.3 percent to a 685,000 annual rate, exceeding the highest estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News and the highest level since April 2010, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. Building permits, a proxy for future construction, also climbed to a more than one-year high.

The S&P 500 tumbled 1.2 percent yesterday as banks slid and concern grew that European officials were failing to make progress in taming the debt crisis.

The S&P 500 has fallen 4.2 percent in 2011, poised to snap a two-year rally. Financial shares in the index led the retreat this year, tumbling 23 percent as a group.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael P. Regan at

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