Stock index futures rose on Sunday as lawmakers in Washington geared up to vote on creating a $700 billion government fund to buy bad debt in an effort to alleviate the global financial crisis.
Congressional leaders from both parties said they had a tentative agreement on Sunday, but questions abound as to whether the U.S. financial rescue plan, which would use taxpayer funds to buy up toxic mortgage debt, would restore confidence to shaky markets and head off a deeper downturn.
Optimism about the bailout was also tempered by a New York Times report that Citigroup Inc (C.N) and Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) were locked Sunday in a bidding war over a possible emergency takeover of Wachovia Corp (WB.N).
"The bailout plan is expected to provide relief and get credit markets back on track," said Chip Hanlon, president of Delta Global Advisors, Inc. in Huntington Beach, California.
"But in truth we've gone through it for more than a year now of these moves by Washington meant to fix our financial problems, while I suspect it buys the global economy some time, people would be wise to not get too excited," Hanlon added.
S&P 500 futures rose 0.6 point while Dow Jones industrial average futures was up 43 points and Nasdaq 100 added 7.75 points.
The uncertainty surrounding Wachovia follows a day of serious setbacks for European banking as the credit crisis that has already swallowed several major U.S. financial companies forced two more banks into government hands and threatened another.
Belgian-Dutch financial group Fortis (
In London, regulators were also preparing to nationalize troubled mortgage lender Bradford & Bingley (BB.L) and were discussing a sale of its savings deposits and branches, people familiar with the matter said.
In Germany, Hypo Real Estate (
"The bailout obscures some of those (European) developments, but people would be wise to keep them in mind," Hanlon said.