U.S. stock-index futures maintained gains even after housing starts unexpectedly declined as declines in Spanish and Italian bond yields eased concern about Europe’s debt crisis.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring in June increased 0.5 percent to 1,370.6 at 8:32 a.m. in New York. Housing starts dropped 5.8 percent to a 654,000 annual rate, less than the lowest estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News and the least since October, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The slump was led by the volatile multifamily category, which at the same time showed a jump in permits, a proxy for future construction.
The S&P 500 has lost 3.5 percent since closing at an almost four-year high on April 2 amid renewed concern about Europe’s debt crisis and slower economic growth in China. A 4.2 percent slump in Apple Inc. yesterday helped drag the index down less than 0.1 percent, even most U.S. stocks rose and the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 72 points.
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