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Futures Fall As Auto Sales Figures Loom

Wall Street looked set to open lower in the second day of trading of the year after Friday's rebound, with investors expected to take some profits following the Dow's rise to more than 9,000.

Investors will be watching the release of December auto sales numbers, which are expected to show a 40 percent drop. Shares of Ford were off 2.4 percent and General Motors was down 1 percent in premarket trading.

Shares of energy leaders Chevron and ExxonMobil both were lower premarket as oil prices indicated a move lower following a rally last week.

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama is seeking as much as $310 billion in tax cuts as part of a stimulus plan to counter what many fear could be a prolonged period of economic stagnation and deflation, according to press reports.

Meanwhile, Obama's quest for a smooth transition stumbled Sunday, when New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson withdrew as his nominee for commerce secretary in the face of a legal inquiry.

In corporate news, Pfizeris mulling buying a large drug company to improve its financial health, bucking the trend among its peers, which have turned against the "mega-mergers" of the past, according to a report by the Financial Times.

Pfizer shares edged lower in premarket trade.

Microsoftwill embark on a significant cost-cutting initiative in 2009, which might begin as early as this month, to counter effects of a slowdown in sales, but reports on various blogs about 15,000 job cuts are "grossly exaggerated," Microsoft sources told CNBC.

Shares of Amazon gained more than 2 percent premarket after JPMorgan upgraded the online retailer from neutral to overweight. Amazon has said that the 2008 holiday season was its best ever, and JPMorgan also gave the company high marks for its efforts to grow sales outside its core business.

Also, Google has come under fire in China, where government officials are blasting the search engine behemoth for not doing enough to crack down on pornography, which is banned in the country. Google shares moved lower less than 1 percent premarket.

The Financial Services Committee will question the SEC's internal watchdog Monday, as lawmakers try to learn why the regulatory agency failed to detect an alleged $50 billion investment fraud by Bernie Madoff.

Meanwhile, bleak warnings continued to gather on the economic horizon.

Economist Martin Feldstein told CNBC the economy could be in worse shape in a year, while former under secretary for international affairs John Taylor warned the explosive growth of the Federal Reserve's balance sheet since September was "unbelievable" and could lead to the Fed losing independence.

Construction spending data will be released at 10 am New York time, and analysts surveyed by Briefing.com expect it to have contracted by 1.2 percent in November last year.

This Week:

MONDAY: Congressional hearings on Madoff case begin; Obama to meet with Pelosi on stimulus plan; auto sales; construction spending; MacWorld begins (Jan. 5-9)
TUESDAY: ISM services index; factory orders; pending-home sales
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage applications; ADP employment report; weekly crude inventories; Earnings from Constellation Brands, Family Dollar, Monsanto and Bed, Bath & Beyond
THURSDAY: ECB and BOE rate decisions; Chain-store sales; weekly jobless claims; consumer credit; Consumer Electronics Show begins (Jan. 8-11)
FRIDAY: Jobs report; wholesale trade; Earnings from KB Home

Send comments to cindy.perman@nbcuni.com.

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