Commodities Boost Futures; Vivus Soars

Wall Street was poised for a slightly higher open as the shrinking dollar boosted commodity prices and a pharmaceutical company surged on promising new drug test results.

Vivus shares soared 63 percent in premarket trading after the company said a trial found that patients on the company's obesity drug, Qnexa, lost 14.7 percent of their body weight.

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  • Mortgage applications jumped 17 percent to a three-month high, helping boost confidence in housing.

    And the continuing decline of the U.S. dollar helped commodity prices, which in turn boosted the stock market's outlook.

    After starting the day lower, crude oil prices turned positive to rise near $72, while gold also gained and again passed the $1,000 an ounce mark. Futures had been lower earlier but turned positive as the two key commodities gained.

    In company news, shares of McDonald's fell nearly 2 percent premarket after the company said same-store sales rose 2.2 percent globally, helped by strength in Europe.

    The Dow, and S&P 500, and the Nasdaq Composite are all higher for the month. Granted, it's only the ninth day of the month, but given the losses of Sept. 1-2, and the month's traditional history as the worst one of the year for stocks, this is worth noting.

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    The Federal Reserve dominates the economic calendar in a variety of events, highlighted by the 2 pm New York time release of the Fed's latest Beige Book, the region by region assessment of the nation's economy.

    Before that, Chicago Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Evans is set to speak at 8 am New York time, with a speech focusing on the outlook for inflation.

    At 8:15 am New York time, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan gives a speech at a Rodman & Renshaw conference.

    And at 2 pm New York time, Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher will speak about U.S. economic challenges.

    One event normally on the Wednesday calendar — the EIA's release of crude oil inventory numbers — is delayed a day this week because of the Labor Day holiday.

    Following Tuesday's strong auction of 3-year notes, the Treasury will sell $20 billion in 10-year notes, with the results available shortly after 1 pm New York time.

    Health care stocks will continue to be in focus today — they were yesterday's worst-performing S&P 500 large-cap sector — as more details on possible health care reform came to light. Famed hedge fund manager Jim Chanos told CNBC he is shorting more names in the industry regardless of whether Congress passes a plan.

    President Obama has a prime time address on health care reform at 8 pm New York time, well after the markets close for the day.

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    The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will be meeting in Vienna, but it seems clear that most OPEC members want to stay the course for now on production levels.

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    - Peter Schacknow, Senior Producer, CNBC Breaking News Desk, contributed.