Futures Hold Gains After ADP Jobs Report

Futures held their gains Wednesday even after a report that the private sector hired fewwer workers than expected. Investors were encouraged following news that President Obama suggested the White House had a range of policy options that could create up to a million new jobs.

Obama must boost growth and bring down unemployment to be confident of winning another White House term in the November 2012 general election. Economists are skeptical he will get Congress to agree to significant new spending on jobs.

On the employment front, private sector job growth slowed for the second month in August with employers adding 91,000 jobs, according to payrolls processor ADP. Economists had expected a gain of 100,000 jobs, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported that planned layoffs fell 23 percent to 51,114 in August.

The Institute of Supply Management Chicago releases August index of manufacturing activity at 9:45 am in New York Economists polled by Reuters forecast a reading of 53.5 in the month compared with 58.8 in July.

And finally the Commerce Department releases July factory orders at 10 am in New York Economists told Reuters they expected a rise of 1.9 percent, compared with a 0.8 percent drop in the prior month.

On the tech front, U.S. authorities have been investigating whether business software maker Oracle's deals in Africa violated federal anti-bribery laws, according to a Wall Street Journal report, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Sony is expected to launch its new tablets, but the Japanese electronics maker faces an uphill battle against market leaders such as Apple and Samsung.

Other companies have jumped on the tablet bandwagon in recent months including Amazon.com and Hewlett-Packard . HP said it plans to crank out a final round of its TouchPads, days after saying it will end manufacturing a line of tablets that failed to challenge Apple's iPad.

AT&T is pledging to bring 5,000 wireless call center positions back to the U.S. if it is allowed to proceed with its proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA.

Bank of America is looking to sell its correspondent mortgage business and the unit's employees could be notified as soon as Wednesday, according to the Wall Street Journal.

ExxonMobil and Rosneft have signed an agreement to extract oil and gas from the Russian Arctic, in the most significant U.S.-Russian corporate deal since US President Barack Obama began a push to improve ties, Reuters reported Wednesday.

Zipcar jumped after Ford agreed to supply vehicles to the car-sharing firm at over 250 colleges throughout the nation.

Also on the economic front, weekly mortgage applications showed a sharp dropoff as refinancing requests tumbled, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Coming Up This Week:

WEDNESDAY: Chicago PMI, factory orders, oil inventories, USDA's agricultural trade outlook
THURSDAY: Weekly jobless claims, productivity and costs, ISM Mfg index, construction spending, chain store sales, auto sales
FRIDAY: Non-farm payroll