Premarket futures indicate U.S. stocks were looking to stage a mixed open Wednesday, as the automakers attempted to secure their future by asking Congress for financial assistance, and several industrial heavyweights searched for answers in a troubled economic environment.

Futures for the

S&P 500

were down 9.4 points at 857 and were 1 point below fair value.

Nasdaq

futures were lower by 16 points at 1158 and were 1.3 ahead of fair value.

Last time out, the major averages suffered through a whipsaw session to close with gains, as strong earnings from tech bellwether

Hewlett-Packard

(HPQ) - Get Report

helped traders look past ongoing troubles for financial firms and automakers.

Companies were still trying to adjust to the economic downturn and salve wounds inflicted by the faltering economy.

After arriving hat in hand on Capitol Hill Tuesday to plead their case for access to federal funding, chief executives of woebegone automakers

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

,

Ford

(F) - Get Report

and

Chrysler

will attempt again Wednesday to exchange a grilling by members of Congress for billions of dollars in government aid. The Big Three have been walloped lately by a combination of flagging sales, troubles in their finance divisions and high labor costs.

Dow Jones Industrial Average

component

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

is resetting its production schedule as it attempts to recover from a strike by its machinists' union, according to a report by

the Wall Street Journal

.

Meanwhile, industrial conglomerate and fellow Dow component

General Electric

(GE) - Get Report

said it would reorganize its GE Capital finance branch to cut costs.

Elsewhere, government-controlled mortgage firm

Fannie Mae

( FNM) received notice from the

New York Stock Exchange

that it faces delisting if it can't keep its share price above $1.

In earnings news, bulk retailer

BJ's Wholesale

(BJ) - Get Report

is set to release quarterly results ahead of the new session.

On the economic-data front, the Census Bureau is set to release its estimates for October building permits and housing starts. Also on tap are consumer-price figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and minutes from the Oct. 29 meeting of the

Federal Reserve's

Open Market Committee.

In the realm of commodities, crude oil was losing 34 cents to $54.05 a barrel. Gold was adding $3.60 to $736.30.

Longer-dated U.S. Treasury securities were rising in price. The 10-year note was adding 18/32 to yield 3.46%, and the 30-year was up 18/32, yielding 4.08%. The dollar was climbing vs. the yen but weakening against the euro and pound.

Overseas, the FTSE in London and the DAX in Frankfurt were both trading lower, and Japan's Nikkei and Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed with losses.