* Mattel, Bank of New York report earnings
* Housing starts, Beige Book data due
* Futures: Dow flat, S&P up 0.6 pts, Nasdaq 5 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, July 17 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were
little changed on Wednesday, indicating the S&P 500 may hold
near recent record highs, ahead of testimony from U.S. Federal
Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
* Bernanke is expected to balance a message of enduring
central bank support for the U.S. economy with a reminder the
Fed's ultra-easy policies cannot last forever in his semiannual
monetary policy report before the House of Representatives
Financial Services Committee at 10:00 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT). The
panel plans to make Bernanke's prepared remarks public at 8:30
a.m. (1230 GMT).
* Financial markets have been highly sensitive to
speculation over when the Fed will start to scale back its bond
buying program. Comments by Bernanke and minutes from a Fed
meeting in late May triggered a 6-percent drop in the S&P 500
in the month that followed.
* But a steady stream of statements from Bernanke and Fed
officials in recent weeks has placated investors and erase those
declines, with the S&P rallying to fresh record highs on Monday.
* The pace of corporate earnings continues to pick up, with
reports expected from American Express Co, eBay Inc
, IBM and Intel Corp.
* S&P 500 futures rose 0.6 point and were slightly
above 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 were
flat, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 5 points.
* Also on the day's agenda, housing starts and permits data
for June will be released at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT). Economists in
a Reuters survey forecast a 959,000 annualized rate in June
versus 914,000 in May.
* Later in the session at 2:00 p.m. (1800 GMT), the Fed will
release its Beige Book of regional economic conditions.
* Analysts expect S&P 500 companies' second-quarter earnings
to have grown 3 percent from a year earlier, with revenue up 1.5
percent, according to data from Thomson Reuters.
* Of the 36 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported
second-quarter results through Tuesday morning, 63.9 percent
beat analysts' expectations, and 55.6 percent beat revenue
* Mattel Inc, the world's largest toymaker, reported
a far weaker-than-expected profit as sales of Barbie dolls fell
* BNY Mellon Corp said second-quarter revenue and
profit surged on a $184 million pre-tax gain from an equity
* European shares erased early gains after minutes from a
Bank of England meeting showed all policymakers voted against
extending the bank's bond purchase program, which has helped
underpin a rally in equities.
* Asian shares steadied, with the MSCI Asia-Pacific ex-Japan
index up 0.05 percent and Seoul shares
advancing 1.1 percent ahead of Bernanke's congressional