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Stock Futures Point to Higher Start in U.S.

Traders await a host of economic data, but in the meantime stocks appear set for early gains Tuesday as the dollar climbs and commodity prices pull back.
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Updated from 7:53 a.m. EDT

While traders waited for a bevy of economic data to be released during the day's session, premarket futures were hinting at an open to the upside for stocks Tuesday, as the dollar strengthened and commodity prices eased.

Futures for the

S&P 500

were better by 2 points at 1269 and were 2 points ahead of fair value.


futures were up 3 points at 1898 and were 6 above fair value.

After showing weakness during Monday's session, the dollar was gaining against the euro, yen and pound. The price of crude oil was declining $2.17 to $112.94 a barrel, and gold was giving back $12.90 to $812.80 an ounce.

During the first trading day of the week, volume was thin and buying ambition was low as concerns about the financial sector translated into broad selling and losses of about 2% for each of the three major indices.

Investors were wringing their hands over a potential takeout of

Lehman Brothers


, whose exposure to bad credit has left its stock on the ropes and management facing questions about its strategy.

Fitch's worries about insurance giant


(AIG) - Get American International Group, Inc. Report

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and investment losses at

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get JPMorgan Chase & Co. Report

also hurt sentiment.

With a new day, angst about U.S. financial institutions was persisting.

The Wall Street Journal

reported that federal regulators have sent "memorandums of understanding," documents that can force banks to raise capital or reduce exposure to high-risk assets, to as many as six banks, including

National City



Imperial Capital



First State



BankUnited Financial



The memorandums represent efforts by the

Federal Reserve

and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to head off failures, the report said. Nine banks have failed this year, and five of those have gone under since mid-July. The most recent casualty occurred last week, when a Kansas bank was shut down.

In the technology space, PC maker


(HPQ) - Get HP Inc. Report

announced it expects to finalize its purchase of

Electronic Data Systems


next week. H-P had announced the $13.3 billion deal in May.

As for economic data, the Conference Board's measure of August consumer confidence is due later this morning, as is the Census Bureau's read on July new-home sales. Traders also will be paying attention to the Fed's minutes from its Aug. 5 policy meeting. At that gathering, the central bank elected to keep its target interest rate at 2%, which is where it's been since April.

In the fixed-income area, Treasuries were experiencing mixed action. The 10-year note was unchanged in price and yielding 3.78%. The 30-year was down 3/32 to yield 4.4%.

Overseas markets were mostly selling off, as the FTSE in London, the Dax in Frankfurt, the Nikkei in Japan and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong all trading lower.