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U.S. stock futures fall after market’s big rally

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NEW YORK » U.S. stock futures fell a day after the Dow Jones industrial average rose by 254 points, its fourth-largest gain this year.

Stocks got a strong start to the week as it became clear that Tropical Storm Irene caused far less damage than many had feared. But investors were awaiting updates on consumer confidence Tuesday before putting more money into stocks.

Consumer confidence likely fell in August, in part because of the wild swings in the stock market earlier this month, economists say. The Dow Jones industrial average had four 400-point swings in a row for the first time in its 115-year history during the week that ended Aug. 12.

A drop in confidence would be a worrisome sign for the nation’s retailers, who depend on the back-to-school shopping season for up to 25 percent of their annual revenue.

A separate report from Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller showed that home prices rose for the third straight month in June. But that was likely because of an increase in spring home buying, and not because of a dramatic turnaround in the housing market. Most home prices are still expected to fall later this year.

About 30 minutes before the opening bell, Dow futures are down 77 points, or 0.7 percent, at 1,440. Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures are down 10, or 0.8 percent, at 1,199. Nasdaq 100 index futures are down 12, or 0.6 percent, at 2,208.

Stocks have varied widely in August. The Dow was down as much as 7.4 percent for the year on Aug. 10, but it is now down just 0.3 percent. On Monday, it had its highest close since Aug. 3.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index hit a 2011 low on Aug. 8 after the U.S. government’s credit rating was downgraded for the first time. But, since then, it has risen 8.1 percent.

Bond prices have been just as volatile. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note briefly fell to a record low below 2 percent on Aug. 18 on weak manufacturing data from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve. On Tuesday, the yield was at 2.20 percent, down slightly from 2.27 percent late Monday.

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