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Futures Rise, Thin Volume Expected

Stocks were set to move higher at the open Friday following a selloff in the previous session as concerns about a credit rating downgrade for the US eased.

  • Dow 30: Extra-Hours Quotes
  • Pre-Markets/Futures Data
  • But volume will be light, with many investors getting a jump on the three-day weekend. The bond market closes early at 2 pm New York time.

    The major indexes finished sharply lower Thursday after investors bulked at the thought the US could lose its prized AAA debt rating.

    The jitters emerged after the Standard & Poor’s cut its outlook for the UK economy to negative from stable. And Pimco’s Co-Chief Investment Officer Bill Gross compounded the fears by saying that the US and UK economies are “relative twins.”

    But Moody's said Friday it was comfortable with its current top-tier rating on the US, although it also said that rating is not guaranteed forever.

    Asian shares closed mostly lower on the economic fears and European stocks were mixed with mining shares gaining, but banks falling.

    General Motors’ investors might have to wait until next month to hear whether the automaker is to follow Chrysler into bankruptcy. The Obama administration does not have plans to pull it into the pits before June 1, when it is expected to deliver its verdict on the troubled automaker, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters.

    GM shares were 5.2 percent higher in pre-market trading.

    Staying in the auto sector, the Treasury Department said it pumped another $7.5 billion into auto and home lender GMAC in bid to support Chrysler and General Motors car buyers.

    In the financial sector, Ed Liddy, the chairman of insurer American International Group, said he will step down as soon as a replacement is found. At the same time, the company announced that it is pursuing a 1-for-20 reverse stock split, sending shares 1.7 percent lower premarket.

    Banks were broadly higher premarket, with Bank of America gaining 2 percent.

    Elsewhere, shares of Sears Holding were set for big gains after the company posted a surprise profit of 21 cents a share Thursday even as revenue fell 9.2 percent. Sears shares surged 24 percent in light premarket trading.

    In economic news, Philadelphia Federal Reserve President Charles Plosser gave market watchers more cause for concern Thursday. Plosser said the Fed’s various economic stimulus programs put the central bank's independence at risk and opened the door to future inflation.

    Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke was due to take to the stage at 2 pm New York time as he gives a commencement address at Boston College.