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Premarket: U.S. futures point to third day of gains

Knight Capital Group Inc., one of the largest U.S. market makers, said it is ‘actively pursuing its strategic and financing alternatives,’ raising the possibility Knight could be sold or even face bankruptcy.

BRENDAN McDERMID/REUTERS

U.S. stock index futures edged higher on Tuesday, pointing to a third straight day of gains on Wall Street, bolstered by expectations the European Central Bank will act soon to lower borrowing costs for Spain and Italy.

However, Spanish benchmark 10-year yields ticked up nearly 5 basis points, underscoring the cautious tone in a market that has been previously disappointed by lack of coordination among euro zone officials.

Equity markets have rallied since Friday on hopes the ECB will start buying Italian and Spanish debt in an effort to stabilize the bloc's credit crisis and protect the euro, even as no details on the bank's course of action have been made public.

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European stock markets edged slightly higher, pressured by bank stocks with Standard Chartered down as much as 25.7 percent in London after New York's top bank regulator threatened to remove the British lender's state banking license for allegedly hiding billions of dollars worth of transactions linked to Iran.

A group of investors rescued Knight Capital Group in a $400-million (U.S.) deal that kept the market-maker in business, all but wiping out existing shareholders.

S&P 500 futures rose 4.1 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 29 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 14.5 points.

Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson scrapped further studies of an anticipated experimental drug for Alzheimer's disease after it failed in a second trial. U.S.-traded shares of their partner Elan Corp dropped 11 percent in premarket trading.

Citigroup Inc may have to a take a charge of almost $6-billion (U.S.) in the current quarter on a markdown of its valuation of the retail brokerage business it owns with Morgan Stanley , Barclays Capital said. Citi shares were little changed in light premarket trade.

A massive fire that struck Monday at the core of Chevron's large Richmond, California, refinery was contained, but not extinguished, according to the company.

U.S. stocks closed at three-month highs for the second day in a row on Monday, extending last week's rally on the hope for more assistance for the troubled euro zone.

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