US stocks headed for a slightly negative open Tuesday as investors braced for the unveiling of the government’s latest bank bailout plan, which could relieve toxic assets from the balance sheets of bad banks.
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Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will reveal the proposals to help banks at 11 am New York time, after a one-day delay. CNBC will interview Geithner after his speech, at noon.
Some market watchers remain sceptical over the benefits of the plan and legendary investor Jim Rogers told CNBC it could even make things worse. The bailout will plunge the US further into debt and it is designed by the same people who failed to forecast the crisis in the first place, Rogers said.
Meanwhile, President Obama has been garnering support for his $800 billion spending and tax-cutting stimulus bill as it works its way through the legal system. The Senate is due to hold a final ballot on the bill at noon.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will also speak at 1 pm about the Fed's liquidity efforts at the House Financial Services Committee.
Banks shares actually were broadly higher headed into the open, with Bank of America gaining 3.3 percent in premarket trading.
Also, UBS shares climbed more than 7 percent after the bank announced it had inflows in January after a long period of outflows, indicative to some analysts that it was beginning to rebound.
Shares of Qwest Communications also were higher, gaining nearly 8 percent as it reported a quarterly 49 percent drop in profit that still beat expectations.
In Europe, banking woes remained at the forefront at Switzerland’s UBS said it would cut another 2,000 jobs after posting a $7 billion net loss in the fourth quarter, missing analysts’ forecasts.
Staying in the sector, Goldman Sachs was the latest company to cancel plans to hold a staff event in Las Vegas. Goldman Sachs will now hold its three-day conference in San Francisco, but it is not clear whether the move will save costs.
Boeing said that the falling value of its planes meant its fourth-quarter net loss was four cents a share wider than it reported late last month. Another flurry of earnings is due before the bell.
On the economic front, December’s wholesale trade data is expected to be released at 10 am.