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At 8:47 AM EDT:

U.S. Futures

S&P 500: +3.40; 1,432.20
NASDAQ 100: +6.50; 1,780.00
Dow: +40.00; 12,534.00

International Indexes

Asia
NIKKEI 225: +0.31%; 17,223.15 (+53.96)
HANG SENG: +1.48%; 19,606.97 (+286.45)
S&P/ASX 200: +0.70%; 5,643.20 (+39.50)

Europe
FTSE 100: +0.47%; 6,219.00 (+29.00)
CAC 40: +0.98%; 5,507.45 (+53.51)
XETRA-DAX: +1.18%; 6,579.75 (+76.62)

Commodity Futures (Reuters/Jefferies CRB)

Oil: +0.10%; $61.16 (+$0.06)
Gold: +0.49%; $630.00 (+$3.10)
Natural Gas: -2.49%; $5.96 (-$0.15)
Silver: +1.69%; $12.94 (+$0.215)

Asian Headlines (via Bloomberg.com)

Asian Internet Access Disrupted; Taiwan Quakes Cut Chunghwa Telecom Cables Internet and telephone services across Asia were disrupted, hampering financial transactions, after earthquakes near Taiwan damaged undersea cables.

Yen Trades Near Two-Month Low Versus Dollar as Retail Sales Lag Forecasts The yen traded near a two-month low against the dollar after a government report showed Japanese retail sales rose less than expected last month.

Asian Stocks Rise to Seven-Month High on Speculation Fed Will Cut Rates Asian stocks rose to the highest in more than seven months. Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE:TM) and Sony Corp. (NYSE:SNE) led gains on speculation the Federal Reserve will cut borrowing costs after the pace of U.S. holiday sales slowed.

Japan's Retail Sales Advanced Less-Than-Expected 0.1 Percent in November Japan's retail sales rose less than expected in November, adding to concern consumers aren't spending enough to spur growth in the world's second-largest economy.

Sinopec Shares Rise After Company Receives $639 Million Government Subsidy Shares in China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (NYSE:SNP), Asia's largest oil refiner, rose as much as 7 percent after it won a one-time 5 billion yuan ($639 million) government subsidy to help cover the cost of higher crude oil prices.

European Headlines (via Bloomberg.com)

European Stocks Rise on Rate Outlook, Oil; SAP, DaimlerChrysler Pace Gains European stocks had the biggest advance in almost a month on speculation U.S. interest rates will decline and after oil prices dropped.

Axa Asia Agrees to Acquire Winterthur Unit in Hong Kong for $243 Million Axa Asia Pacific Holdings Ltd. (AXA), the Australian unit of Europe's second-biggest insurer, agreed to buy Winterthur's Hong Kong life unit for about A$311 million ($243 million), part of a plan to accelerate expansion in Asia.

U.A.E. Central Bank to Convert 8 Percent of Reserves to Euros From Dollars The United Arab Emirates will convert 8 percent of its foreign-exchange reserves to euros from dollars before September after the U.S. currency slumped this year, the country's central bank governor said.

Oil Trades Little Changed Near $61 a Barrel on Mild U.S. Weather Forecast Crude oil traded near $61 a barrel on forecasts that mild weather in the U.S., the world's largest energy consumer, will cut demand for heating oil.

U.S. Headlines (via Bloomberg.com)

Retailers' Holiday Gains in U.S. May Trail 2005 on Housing, Energy Costs U.S. retailers' sales growth during the holiday season may fall short of forecasts because the slowdown in housing and higher energy costs curbed consumer spending. ford

Gerald Ford, 38th U.S. President and Successor to Nixon, Dies at Age 93 Former U.S. President Gerald R. Ford, who pardoned his predecessor, Richard Nixon, and sought to restore faith in government after the Watergate scandal three decades ago, has died. He was 93.

Dollar Slides as U.A.E. Says Selling U.S. Currency Reserves, Buying Euros The dollar dropped the most in a week against the euro as the United Arab Emirates said it will convert some of its reserves of U.S. assets into the European currency.

New-Home Sales in U.S. Probably Rose in November as Loan Rates Declined Sales of new homes in the U.S. probably edged higher in November, after hovering near three-year lows, as mortgage rates fell and builders piled on incentives, according to a survey of economists before a government report today.

U.S. Stock Futures Climb on Drop in Crude; Ford Advances on Toyota Meeting U.S. stock-index futures rose as oil neared the lowest in a month, reducing companies' costs and giving the Federal Reserve leeway to reduce borrowing costs.

Bank Loans Lure Kohlberg Kravis, Carlyle With Junk-Bond Returns, Less Risk Investors are finding junk bond yields with about half the risk in an unlikely place: the U.S. loan market.

Source: Wall St. Ready For Bullish Open