Futures Rise on Year-End Rally Hope

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open for Wall Street Tuesday, after ending down on Monday, with investors still hoping for a last rally in the final days of the year.

Futures compared to fair market value were indicating opening gains of close to 1 percent across the board.

The Bush administration expanded its bailout of the auto industry, buying $5 billion in equity in auto and mortgage finance company GMAC and increasing a loan to General Motors by $1 billion.

The news lifted GM shares, sending the stock up more than 11 percent in premarket trading.

Also in the auto sector, billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian sold his remaining stake in Ford Motor after betting more than $1 billion that the carmaker will recover.

In late October, Kerkorian's investment firm Tracinda began selling Ford shares at $2.43, representing a loss of almost 66 percent from what the fund paid on average.

Ford shares still gained more than 8 percent premarket.

In more mergers and acquisitions news, Dow Chemical is scrambling to keep its $15 billion takeover of rival Rohm & Haas alive after a surprise decision by the Kuwaiti government to scrap a joint venture with Dow, according to the Financial Times.

Dow recovered some of its 20 percent loss from Monday, rising more than 3 percent premarket, while Rohm & Hass also picked up more than 3 percent after tumbling 16 percent the previous day.

On the economic front, the S&P Case-Shiller home prices index for October will be released at 9 am New York time.

Data on the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index will be published at 9:45 am New York time and analysts surveyed by Briefing.com expect the index to show a reading of 33 in December from 33.8 in November.

Consumer confidence data for December will be released at 10 and Briefing.com forecasts a reading of 45.2 versus November's 44.9.

Asian markets closed mixed in thin pre-holiday trading with the Nikkei logging the worst year in its history, down 42 percent in 2008, despite gaining 1.3 percent on its final half-day of trade.

European shares gained in early trade, buoyed by oil companies, with most stock exchanges entering the last full-day session of 2008.