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Updated from 6:46 a.m. EST

Premarket futures were forecasting a lower open for U.S. stocks Wednesday, as reports suggested the

Treasury Department

, the

Federal Reserve

and other government agencies were tweaking their plans to intervene in the most troubled corners of the financial markets.

Futures for the

S&P 500

were down 4.1 points at 889 and were 8.8 points short of fair value.


futures were lower by 13 points at 1210 and were 16 below fair value.

On Tuesday, the major indices sold off hard as financial firms announced plans to modify mortgages and traders sweated over the fate of a beleaguered auto sector.

The Wall Street Journal

reported Wednesday that the Treasury may begin to require companies to raise private money before gaining access to the $700 billion

Troubled Asset Relief Program


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also reported that

American Express

(AXP) - Get American Express Company Report

, which on Monday had become a bank-holding company and thus eligible for funds from the Fed, was attempting to get $3.5 billion in capital injections from the government.

Meanwhile, a report by


indicated the Fed is attempting to become the main regulator for the credit-default swaps market. The Fed and other government agencies are working to develop a clearinghouse for the $33 trillion CDS market.

The government also was moving toward aid for the automakers.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

suggested financial assistance for the industry, which includes

General Motors

(GM) - Get General Motors Company Report



(F) - Get Ford Motor Company Report



. GM and Ford last Friday announced troubling quarterly losses that led some to question the future viability of the U.S. auto sector.

In the energy sector,


(EXC) - Get Exelon Corporation Report

announced it would take its buyout bid for

NRG Energy

(NRG) - Get NRG Energy Inc. Report

straight to shareholders after NRG on Monday rejected Exelon's offer.

As for technology companies,


(MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report

is working on a deal with


(VZ) - Get Verizon Communications Inc. Report

to provide the default search software for Verizon Wireless' phones, according to a report by the



Among corporate earnings,

Dutch financial firm ING

(ING) - Get ING Group N.V. Report

swung to a quarterly loss on losses related to the financial crisis.

In retail, department store operator


(M) - Get Macy's, Inc. Report

announced a third-quarter loss on declining sales. Elsewhere among merchants, electronics vendor

Best Buy

(BBY) - Get Best Buy Co. Inc. Report

, citing declines in consumer spending, lowered its earnings forecasts for the remainder of its fiscal year.

Turning to economic forecasts, the Bank of England predicted a decline in Britain's inflation to below 2% next year, but also said that inflation could decline yet further on an economic downturn.

Looking at commodities, crude oil was declining 58 cents to $58.75 a barrel, as the

International Energy Agency

predicted global energy demand would rise 1.6% annually between 2006 and 2030 and called for new investments to avert a supply shortage. Gold was down $3.40 to $729.40 an ounce.

Longer-dated U.S. Treasury securities were rising in price. The 10-year was up 8/32 to yield 3.71%, and the 30-year was up 4/32, yielding 4.19%. The dollar was higher vs. the pound but losing ground against the yen and euro.

Overseas, European exchanges were mixed, as the FTSE in London edged higher and the DAX in Frankfurt was trading lower. As for

Asian markets

, Japan's Nikkei and Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed on the downside.