US STOCKS-Futures erase earlier gains as focus shifts to fiscal cliff

Tue Nov 27, 2012 12:47pm GMT

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* U.S. fiscal cliff concerns overshadow Greek debt deal

* Durable goods orders, consumer confidence data on tap

* Futures: S&P flat; Dow down 6 pts, Nasdaq up 2.5 pts

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, Nov 27 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Tuesday despite news that international lenders agreed to reduce Greece's debt, as the market's focus turned back to the "fiscal cliff".

* Market sentiment had improved after Euro zone finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund clinched agreement late on Monday on reducing Greece's debt in a breakthrough to release urgently needed loans to keep the near-bankrupt economy afloat.

* But as U.S. budget negotiations continued in Washington, the market quickly reverted to a more cautious stance on concerns over the fast-approaching fiscal cliff. Futures cut earlier gains to trade flat.

* S&P 500 futures were little changed and in line with fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 6 points, while Nasdaq 100 futures were up 2.5 points,

* As of Monday's close, the S&P 500 was holding above the 1,400 level it retook last week, and volume continued to be weak as traders awaited any advance in talks between the Obama administration and Congress to avert a series of spending cuts and tax increases scheduled to begin next year, which threaten to drag the economy into recession.

* The Commerce Department releases October durable goods orders at 8:30 a.m. ET (1330 GMT). Economists expect a 0.6 percent fall in orders in October, compared with a 9.8 percent rise in September.

* Standard & Poor's releases its S&P Case/Shiller Home Price Index for September at 9:00 a.m. ET (1400 GMT). Economists expect an adjusted 20 city index to rise 0.4 percent, versus a 0.5 percent increase in the previous month.

* Conference Board releases November consumer confidence at 10 a.m. ET (1500 GMT). Economists expect a reading of 73.0, compared with 72.2 in October.

* ConAgra Foods Inc will acquire Ralcorp, the largest private label food manufacturer in the U.S. for $90 per share in cash, a deal valued about $6.8 billion.

* ConocoPhillips' partners in Kazakhstan's Kashagan field have 60 days to exercise pre-emption rights to prevent India's ONGC Videsh from buying an 8.4 percent stake in the project held by the U.S. company, the Indian firm's managing director said.

* Europe is preparing to follow the United States in delaying the introduction of stricter rules on bank capital, while it lobbies for a rethink of the U.S. stance, EU sources said.

* However, the head of the Basel Committee at the Bank of International Settlements told Reuters on Tuesday that the introduction of stricter capital rules for banks will go ahead as planned on Jan. 1.