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Futures Head Higher on GMAC Approval

Stock index futures pointed to a low-volume rally pushed by the approval of General Motors' financing arm to become a bank holding company.

Little action is expected during trading hours with many investors and traders taking advantage of the timing of Christmas to enjoy a four-day weekend.

The government threw GMAC Financial Servicesa lifeline late Wednesday, granting its request to become a bank holding company to tap federal loans. The move is significant because it will give the company access to funds under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

On the heels of that approval, GM shares surged 17 percent in premarket trading.

Elsewhere in banking, Citigroup said it would be raising capital for its Korean unit. The company said it will announce details later but it is believed the capital raising will be in the $500 million range.

And in the energy sector, oil prices rose above $36 a barrel after the UAE cut supplies.

The gain pushed shares of Dow component ExxonMobil higher in premarket trading.

Retailers could be among the most active stocks in the session. Total holiday sales excluding auto sales were down 5.5 percent to 8 percent. E-commerce was one of the few bright spots.

Amazon shares surged nearly 6 percent after the online retailer said its 2008 holiday sales were its best ever.

And Apple shares also were called higher by about 1.6 percent as iPod sales were strong over the holidays as well.

There are no economic indicators or earnings reports scheduled ahead of the opening bell.

Both U.S. stock and bond markets are open for a full day. Major European markets were closed for the Boxing Day holiday. Asian markets were mixed, with Japan closing up 1.6% and bit South Korea ending lower.