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Futures Hold Ground Even Amid GDP Letdown

CNBC.com
Tuesday, 22 Dec 2009 | 8:41 AM ET

Stock index futures mostly held their ground and indicated a higher open, despite a report showing the economy grew at a much slower pace than thought in the third quarter.

The Commerce Department pegged third-quarter gross domestic product growth at 2.2 percent, below the initial reading of 2.8 percent and worse than analyst projections that the first print on GDP would be revised lower but only to 2.7 percent.

Even amid the disappointment, momentum shifted back to the bulls ahead of the Tuesday session on Wall Street, with stocks coming off two straight days of gains.

The Nasdaq has put up its best two-day percentage gain since Nov. 5-6, while the S&P 500 is coming off its biggest two-day advance since Nov. 13 and 16.

Ford shares gained 1.2 percent premarket after the company said it was offering buyouts and early retirement options to all 41,000 of its US factory workers. UBS also increased its price target for Ford from $9 to $12.

Sovereign debt worries could play a part in today's market mood as well, as Moody's cuts Greece's credit rating to A2 from A1. However, that cut is a smaller move than some were expecting.

Ireland's banks also were being traded actively after the government said the two institutions in which it has interest, Allied Irish Banks and Bank of Ireland, will be strong enough to sell their government stakes in a year or two but will need to raise capital. Allied shares dropped about 8 percent in premarket trading, while Bank of Ireland slipped 1.1 percent.

Investors will be looking to a second economic report for more direction.

At 10 am New York time, the National Association of Realtors is out with its November existing home sales report. Consensus forecasts call for an increase of 3.3 percent from October levels to an annual selling rate of 6.3 million units.

Jabil Circuit shares rose 5.8 percent premarket as it posted better-than-expected earnings for its first quarter.

The earnings calendar is light this morning, but after-the-bell list quarterly numbers from uniform maker Cintas , chipmaker Micron Technology , and software maker Red Hat will come out.

Yahoowill be shutting down its offices from Dec. 25 to Jan. 1 in a cost-cutting move. Yahoo told CNBC it informed employees of the company's first mandatory shutdown this past summer.

Winterizing Your Portfolio - A CNBC Special Report
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Boeing is planning to conduct a second test flight of its 787 Dreamliner in Washington, scheduled for 11:45 am New York time in Everett, Wash.

Toyota is seeking to cut its auto parts costs by 30 percent in an effort to regain profitability, and is asking its suppliers for help in that area.

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