Futures Push Higher; Dubai Doubts Persist

Stock index futures indicated a positive open Wednesday, though debt concerns regarding Dubai and elsewhere remain prominent in the minds of investors.

That was a one of the key factors in Tuesday's losses on Wall Street, with the major averages experiencing their biggest one-day drop since Nov. 27. Those losses put the Dow and the S&P 500 in the red for December, though the Nasdaq remains higher for the month.

3M shares gained 2 percent after Citigroup upgraded the Dow component to "buy" from "neutral." The move came a day after the company's shares fell more than 1 percent when it issued an outlook that disappointed investors.

The dollar-stocks inverse correlation appeared to be in full effect. The dollar index was off 0.5 percent in early trading, sending stock futures higher and oil prices back over $73 a barrel. Gold, though, was slightly in the red.

Dubai's troubles are likely to remain an overhang to the markets today, however, as the cost of insuring Dubai's debt against default is rising sharply this morning. That comes as investment arm Dubai World's property subsidiary, Nakheel, showed a 7 percent jump in liabilities to about $20 billion.

It's a light economic calendar once again today, with October wholesale inventories the only government statistic of note. Economists are looking for a drop of 0.7 percent when the number is released at 10 am New York time. September saw a decrease of 0.9 percent.

In one early report, the Mortgage Bankers Association said applications for home loans rose 8 percent last week, to the highest level in two months, as homeowners sought to lock into low rates through reginancing.

The Energy Information Administration will put out its reading on oil and gasoline inventories at 10:30 am.

Following strong demand at its 3-year note auction yesterday, the Treasury follows up today by selling $21 billion in 10-year notes, with the results available shortly after 1 pm.

Texas Instruments will be a stock to watch today, following its mid-quarter update late yesterday. The chipmaker said fourth quarter earnings and revenue would be at the high end of its target range, but the shares fell after hours as some investors had expected even better numbers.

The TARP program remains in the news, with sources telling CNBC that the administration will request today that the program be extended into 2010. CNBC has also learned that $175 billion in TARP money will be dedicated to deficit reduction, leaving $140 billion in uncommitted TARP funds unused. Presumably, that could be used for the jobs programs announced by President Obama this week. And a new report from the Congressional Oversight Panel says the TARP program did help stabilize the financial system, but hasn't really boosted lending or staved off home foreclosures.

The market will also be watching health care stocks today, as Senate Democrats reach what's being called a broad agreement on eliminating the so-called public option. That agreement would see the government contract with a nonprofit insurer to provide a substitute for that option.

Winterizing Your Portfolio - A CNBC Special Report
Winterizing Your Portfolio - A CNBC Special Report

In automotive news, Volkswagenis buying a 20 percent stake in Japan'sSuzuki for $2.5 billion, as it seeks to become the world's top automaker. And Chrysler's chief executive, Sergio Marchionne, told lawmakers that he's willing to let the company's market share slide in the short term in order to further Chrysler's long term goals.

- Written by Peter Schacknow, Senior Producer, CNBC Breaking News Desk