U.S. Stock Futures Rise; Traders Eye the Fed

Premarket futures were pointing to a higher open for stocks in New York Tuesday as traders geared up for a Federal Reserve meeting and took in solid earnings from energy firm BP ( BP).

Futures for the S&P 500 were up 38 points at 872 and were 25 above fair value. Nasdaq futures were up 49 points at 1211 and were 39 ahead of fair value.

During a volatile trading session Monday, the three major averages sold off in the last hour, as pessimism about the fate of the global economy took hold of investors.

As the new day dawned, the Federal Reserve was set to begin deliberations on its interest-rate policy Tuesday. Many investors expect the Federal Open Market Committee to reduce its target interest rate 50 basis points to 1%. Such a move would signal interest in providing the markets with capital to alleviate the ongoing credit crisis.

As for earnings, BP, Europe's second-largest oil company, reported third-quarter earnings that increased 83% on high oil and natural gas prices. U.S. Steel ( X) also is set to report before trading begins. Whirlpool ( WHR) reported a 7% decline in third-quarter earnings and said it plans to slash 5,000 jobs.

In other company news, aircraft maker Boeing ( BA) came to a tentative agreement with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union. The union had been on strike since Sept. 6.

Meanwhile, the Treasury Department is facing difficulties implementing its $700 billion program to purchase troubled assets from banks, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. The report indicated that the plan faces delays in hiring managers for the assets.

As for automakers, the Journal reported that General Motors ( GM) may secure a $5 billion government loan -- part of $25 billion in funding recently authorized by Congress -- to finance a purchase of fellow troubled automaker Chrysler.

Shifting to economic data, traders will get a look at the Conference Board's consumer-confidence reading for October.

Longer-dated U.S. Treasury securities were declining in price. The 10-year was down 28/32 to yield 3.8%, and the 30-year was losing 1-29/32, yielding 4.15%. The Treasury Department has announced a sale of $34 billion in two-year Treasury bills to raise money to continue to bolster the banking system. It plans to raise another $24 billion on Oct. 30.

The dollar was rallying vs. its major foreign competitors.

Overseas, European exchanges, including London's FTSE and Frankfurt's DAX, were mostly trading higher. Asian stocks had a mixed session, as the Nikkei in Japan and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong closed with gains.

( Photo gallery: Trading Faces)

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