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Premarket futures were suggesting a lower open for stocks in New York Thursday as uncertainty about the wounded financial sector and sluggish economy persisted.

Futures for the

S&P 500

were down 13 points at 1221 and were 13 points below fair value.


futures were lower by 20 points at 1718 and were 30 short of fair value.

On Wednesday, the major indices finished a choppy day with modest gains. Traders were focused on brokerage

Lehman Brothers


as it revealed potential solutions to its liquidity troubles.

Washington Mutual


shares took a significant hit on concerns that the thrift may default on some of its debt or fail to find a willing buyer.

The Wall Street Journal

Thursday reported that Lehman CEO Dick Fuld over the past week has been calling other financial firms to ensure they were still trading with his company. Fuld lately has been fighting rumors that Lehman will follow

Bear Stearns


Fannie Mae



Freddie Mac


as the next victim of the credit crisis, the report said.

Separately, Fannie Mae, which along with Freddie Mac was nationalized by the government over the weekend, successfully issued $7 billion in two-year bonds as investors regained confidence in the mortgage company's credit.

In the energy space,



said one of its fields contains between 3 billion and 4 billion barrels of oil.

Mining equipment manufacturer

Joy Global


announced a $1 billion share buyback early Thursday.

As for commodities, crude oil was down 94 cents at $101.64 a barrel. Gold lost $17.20 to $745.30.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' trade balance reading for July is due before the open Thursday, as is the Employment and Training Administration's weekly jobless claims report. A bit later in the day the Treasury will release its monthly budget information.

Longer-term U.S. Treasury securities were rising in price. The 10-year was up 4/32 to yield 3.62%, and the 30-year was up 8/32 to yield 4.21%. The dollar was rising vs. the euro and pound, but falling against the yen.

Foreign exchanges were broadly losing value. The FTSE in London and the Dax in Frankfurt were both trading lower. Hong Kong's Hang Seng and Japan's Nikkei finished their day with losses.