US STOCKS-Futures lower ahead of durables orders, home sales

* U.S. durable good orders, home sales data on tap

* S&P downgrades Ireland; Japanese stocks hit 16-month low

* Futures down: Dow 18 pts, S&P 2.5 pts, Nasdaq 5.75 pts

* For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US]

(Adds quote)

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, Aug 25 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. stock index futures fell
on Wednesday as weakness in equities markets overseas kept
traders cautious ahead of upcoming U.S. data on durable goods
orders and home sales.

New home sales for July will be released at 10 a.m. [1400
GMT], and economists in a Reuters survey expect no change from
the 330,000 unit annual rate in June. A revival of the housing
market is considered crucial for an economic recovery, and on
Tuesday, weak existing home sales data sparked a sell-off that
sent stocks to seven-week lows.

“Home sales are driving the market right now, and
yesterday’s read doesn’t bode well for today’s data,” said Cort
Gwon, director of trading strategies at FBN Securities in New
York. “A lot of weakness is discounted, but there’s still
downside potential if we miss (expectations).”

Data on July durable goods orders, also due at 10 a.m., are
expected to show a rise of 2.8 percent after a 1.2 percent drop
in June.

Standard & Poor’s late on Tuesday cut its credit rating on
Ireland and assigned it a negative outlook, expecting the
country to face substantially higher costs to support its
ailing financial institutions. For details, see

Japanese stocks hit a 16-month closing low as
disappointment spread over the lack of policy action by Japan
to rein in the strong yen. Japan’s finance minister sharpened
his rhetoric on the yen’s steep gains after the Nikkei
newspaper reported Japan may consider selling the yen in solo
intervention if speculators drive it up. [ID:nTOE65T00N]

S&P 500 futures (SPc1: ) fell 2.5 points and were below 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 (DJc1: ) lost 18
points, and Nasdaq 100 futures (NDc1: ) slid 5.75 points.

American International Group Inc (AIG.N: ) is expected to
decide by early next week whether to enter formal negotiations
with strategic investors for its Asian life insurance business,
AIA, sources familiar with the process told Reuters on
Wednesday. [ID:nTOE67O06R]

JDS Uniphase Corp (JDSU.O: ) is the sole S&P 500 company
scheduled to report quarterly results on Wednesday, and the
telecommunications equipment maker is expected to swing to a
fourth-quarter profit (Read more your timing to make a profit.).

Luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers Inc (TOL.N: ) swung to a
third-quarter profit (Read more your timing to make a profit.) and said it expects gross margins before
interest and write-downs to improve in its fourth-quarter.
Shares of Toll closed Tuesday at $16.19. [ID:nSGE67O0GI]

U.S.-listed shares of Potash Corp (POT.TO: ) (POT.N: ) dipped
0,4 percent in premarket trading to $148.50 after mining giant
BHP Billiton (BHP.AX: ) tried to dampen expectations that it
would substantially raise its hostile $39 billion bid for the
company. [ID:nSGE67O017]

The Dow and S&P 500 notched their fourth straight day of
losses on Tuesday as the unexpectedly large drop in home sales
ratcheted up concerns that the economic recovery is even weaker
than feared.

(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)

US STOCKS-Futures lower ahead of durables orders, home sales