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August 20, 2013  Tue 7:15 AM CT

SPX: SEE CHART GET CHAIN FIND STRATEGIES
U.S. stock index futures have reversed earlier losses after Home Depot reported surprisingly strong quarterly numbers this morning.

The home-improvement giant beat earnings and revenue estimates while raising its outlook, boosting shares by more than 3.3 percent in pre-market trading. Best Buy and J.C. Penney are also higher after reporting this morning, by more than 12 percent and 2.5 percent respectively.

S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq 100 contracts are up about 0.25 percent at the time of this writing. Both had been in the red before the three retailers released their numbers.

European indexes are down across the board but have improved with the turnaround in U.S. futures. France's CAC is down about 1.2 percent, Germany's DAX is off 0.7 percent, and the U.K. FTSE is lower by about 0.4 percent.

Asian equities were hit hard overnight, led by declines of 2.6 percent in Japan's Nikkei and 2.2 percent in Hong Kong's Hang Seng. Markets across the region sold off on fears that emerging-market assets would suffer from tighter monetary policy by the Federal Reserve.  

Commodities are mostly lower this morning with crude oil down nearly 0.9 percent, approaching the $106 level. Gold and silver are lower by about 0.8 percent and 0.3 percent respectively. Copper is down slightly but well off its lows.

The dollar is down against most major currencies. It is lower against the Japanese yen, which is usually bearish for equities.

U.S. stocks are trying to snap a five-day losing streak that has brought major indexes to important technical junctures. Yesterday the S&P 500 posted its lowest close since July 8 and broke another level of support, which is now at 1600. That sent the CBOE Volatility Index up more than 5 percent and back above the 15 level.

Attention now turns to the Chicago Fed National Activity Index, which will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET. The Fed's economic data is being watched closely for clues that could indicate the direction of the central bank's monetary policy. To that end, tomorrow afternoon's release of the Federal Open Market Committee's minutes from its last meeting will be crucial.

Tomorrow will also see more earnings results from retailers when Lowe's and American Eagle Outfitters announce their numbers in the morning. Toll Brothers will also report tomorrow, providing further insight into the state of the housing market.
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