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Inside the Market

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Markets expect an early Christmas Add to ...

You'd think there  are way too many shopping days until Christmas for this to be happening, but U.S. stock index futures appear to have visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads. The sugar plum is in the form of reports that, around 11 a.m. EDT,  U.S. President George Bush will move to stem the tide of foreclosures -- and staunch the flow of red ink - set in motion by the subprime mortgage debacle. The reports say he will ask the Federal Housing Administration to guarantee loans for homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgages, helping them avoid foreclosure and, perhaps, refinance at lower interest rates. European and Asian stock markets are already up today in anticipation that Dubya will not disappoint, and with about two hours to go before the opening bell, their North American counterparts appear set to follow suit. Dow Jones industrial average futures are up about 120 points to 13,399, S&P 500 index futures are up 16.4 points to 1,478, and contracts written on the Nasdaq 100 are 22.25 points ahead, at 1997. Also contributing to the sharp uptick in the index futures is the fact that about an hour before Mr. Bush unwraps his early Christmas present for the world, U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke, is set to speak at a Fed symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The hope is that the world's most closely watched central banker will bail out rattled equity investors by at least a hinting an interest rate cut is imminent.

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