ETFs are off to a flat start for Wall Street with investors focused on disappointing housing-price and consumer-confidence data, but volumes are thin with many traders still out for the holidays.

  • Home prices tumbled in October, according to data released Tuesday, with six cities setting new lows as the housing market remains divorced from the upturn seen in other parts of the U.S. economy. The non-seasonally-adjusted S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite home-price index fell 1.3% on a monthly basis and 0.8% on an annual basis in October. Economists had expected a 0.6% decline in the annual figure. Prices hadn’t dropped on an annual basis since January and are 29.6% below their peak. The iShares Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate ETF (NYSEArca: IYR) is holding up in spite of the negative report, trading slightly higher.
  • Consumer confidence unexpectedly deteriorated in December, hurt by increasing worries about the jobs market, according to a private report released on Tuesday. The Conference Board, an industry group, said its index of consumer attitudes slipped to 52.5 in December from an upwardly revised 54.3 in November. In the wake of the report, SPDR S&P Retail (NYSEArca: XRT) is down slightly.
  • In that vein, retailers may be on the move in the markets. U.S. consumers spent 5.5% more in the 2010 holiday season than they did a year earlier, buying lots of clothes to counter cold December weather and even big-ticket items like jewelry and luxury goods, according to the SpendingPulse division of MasterCard Advisors. The report measures sales excluding cars for the 50 days from Nov. 5 through Dec. 24. 
  • In corporate news, Shares of AIG (NYSE: AIG) are up set up to add to gains after hitting a 52-week high on Monday after the insurer announced that it secured $4.3 billion in credit facilities. The PowerShares KBW Property and Casualty ETF (NYSEArca: KBWP) is responding favorably to the news.

Gregory A. Clay contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.