Stock Futures Modestly Higher on Auto Rescue Hopes

NEW YORKWall Street headed for a modestly higher open Monday, kept afloat by the hope that the White House will give U.S. automakers short-term assistance to keep them from failing.

After last week's rejection by the Senate of a $14 billion bailout for General Motors Corp., Chrysler LLC and Ford Motor Co., President George W. Bush told reporters Monday that "we're now in the process of working with the stakeholders on a way forward." Some analysts have estimated that an automaker bankruptcy would result in as many as 3 million U.S. jobs lost next year.

While investors were relieved that an auto industry collapse did not appear imminent, they remained cautious as the tally of those affected by losses on investments managed by Wall Street investment manager Bernard Madoff. Banco Santander, BNP Paribas, Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC and hedge fund Man Group PLC all revealed significant exposures to what prosecutors say was a $50 billion scheme to defraud investors.

Ahead of the market's open, Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 3, or 0.03 percent, to 8,667. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures rose 0.60, or 0.07 percent, to 886.00, while Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 2.75, or 0.23 percent, to 1,217.75.

Last week, the Dow Jones industrial average ended the week down 0.07 percent; the Standard & Poor's 500 index finished up 0.42 percent; and the Nasdaq composite index ended the week up 2.08 percent.

Bonds were mostly higher early on Monday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 2.62 percent from 2.58 percent late Friday. But the yield on the three-month T-bill — a safe short-term asset that's been in very high demand — dipped to 0.01 percent from 0.04 percent late Friday.

The dollar was lower against other major currencies, while gold prices fell.

Light, sweet crude rose $2.18 to $48.46 in electronic premarket trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Markets overseas shot higher on the hope of an automaker lifeline. Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 5.21 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 1.96 percent. In late morning trading, Britain's FTSE 100 rose percent, Germany's DAX index was down 3.93 percent, and France's CAC-40 was down 4.69 percent.