Stocks point higher on prospect of Lehman buyout

August 22, 2008 6:34:39 AM PDT
Wall Street appeared headed for a higher open Friday, as a pullback in oil and the growing chance that Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. could be acquired drove investors back into the stock market. Worries about the embattled Lehman had re-emerged this week as analysts lowered their estimates for the investment bank and forecasted large additional write-downs. However, a Ladenburg Thalmann analyst upgrade on Lehman to "buy" helped stocks finish mixed on Thursday; he said he believed Lehman has become a hostile takeover candidate.

And on Friday, after the previous day's media reports that discussions between Lehman and a group of Korean banks had fallen through, another media report emerged that Korea Development Bank is considering buying Lehman. Lehman shares jumped more than 14 percent in premarket trading.

Investors were also awaiting a speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who is scheduled to appear at 10 a.m. Eastern time at the Kansas City Fed's annual economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Investors will be looking for insight into the current state of the banking system - which has become an even bigger concern as of late, on speculation that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac might need a government bailout.

Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 79, or 0.69 percent, to 11,487. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures rose 11.20, or 0.88 percent, to 1,286.70. Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 16.25, or 0.85 percent, to 1,923.50.

Light, sweet crude oil prices fell $1.52 to $119.56 a barrel in premarket electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after surging by more than $5 a barrel on Thursday.

Bond prices fell modestly ahead of Wall Street's open on Friday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, edged up to 3.84 percent from 3.83 percent late Wednesday.

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

In earnings news, Gap Inc. said late Thursday its profit in the most recent quarter rose 51 percent compared with the same period last year, thanks to tight inventory and cost control. The results were slightly better than expected.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 0.68 percent. In midday trading, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.95 percent, Germany's DAX index rose 1.17 percent, and France's CAC-40 rose 1.17 percent.


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