* Housing starts, CPI data due
* Home Depot climbs after earnings, outlook
* BHP Billiton falls after announcing spin-off, but no buyback
* Futures up: Dow 37 pts, S&P 2.75 pts, Nasdaq 7.25 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Aug 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures advanced modestly on Tuesday, putting the S&P 500 on track for a second straight day of gains, after solid earnings from Home Depot and ahead of data on inflation and the housing market.
* Dow component Home Depot gained 3.3 percent to $86.31 in premarket trade after the world’s largest home improvement retailer reported earnings and revenue that topped Wall Street expectations and raised its full-year profit forecast.
* Investors will eye housing starts and the consumer price index data for July scheduled for release at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT). Housing starts are expected to show an increase to a seasonally adjusted annual 969,000 unit-pace versus the 893,000 pace in June. CPI is expected to show a 0.1 percent increase versus the 0.3 percent rise in the prior month.
* The S&P 500 closed at its highest level since July 28 to move within 1 percent of a record high and the Nasdaq finished at its highest since March 2000 on Monday, buoyed by increasing homebuilder confidence, a flurry of M&A activity and hopes for easing tensions in Ukraine.
* But sparks of conflict remained in the region, with fighting taking place on Tuesday in the center of Luhansk, near Ukraine’s border with Russia, between government forces and separatist rebels who have held the town since April, a Ukrainian military spokesman said.
* S&P 500 e-mini futures were up 2.75 points and fair value - a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract - indicated a higher open. Dow Jones industrial average e-mini futures rose 37 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures added 7.25 points.
* U.S.-listed shares of BHP Billiton, down 3.5 percent to $70.20 and BHP Billiton PLC, off 5.3 percent to $65.81, lost ground in premarket after the world’s biggest mining company announced plans to spin off businesses worth an estimated $16 billion but held off on a share buyback plan.
* China Finance Online jumped 13.9 percent to $8.91 before the opening bell after the company said it had launched China’s first independent web-based securities trading platform.
* European shares rose to extend the previous session’s rally, while Asian shares tracked Wall St gains, driven by what traders saw as an easing of tension in the Ukraine crisis. (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)