Futures rise on rate-cut bets, Bear Stearns

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NEW YORK, Sept 27 (Reuters) U.S. stock futures rose on Thursday as investors bet that data on new home sales would strengthen the case for further interest rate cuts to ease the toll of the housing slump on the economy.

Bear Stearns Cos tops the list of stocks to watch, with its shares up more than 4 percent in Europe following a report in The New York Times that the investment bank is in talks to sell up to a 20 percent stake. For details, see ID:nL27229067 Citing unnamed people briefed on the discussions, the newspaper reported late on Wednesday that interested parties included Warren Buffett.

In addition to home sales, the government will give its final reading of second-quarter gross domestic product.

Data suggesting weakness in the economy could be welcomed by the market as it could make the Federal Reserve more disposed to lower rates again.

''The trend here is that as we look at the economic data stream, we are looking at bad news to be good news and there's a possibility that this morning might see a part of that,'' said Art Hogan, chief market analyst at Jefferies&Co. in Boston.

''The day will prove how correct investors are in early trading on Bear Stearns.'' S&P 500 futures rose 5.6 points and were above fair value, a mathematical formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract.

Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 50 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 10.5 points.

In corporate news, a billion takeover of Sallie Mae is teetering on the verge of collapse after the student lender said late on Wednesday a consortium does not expect to complete its planned acquisition on the agreed terms.

ID:nL27296879 Earnings are due from homebuilder KB Home, which may shed light on the extent of the housing turmoil after rival Lennar Corp posted its biggest ever quarterly loss on Tuesday.

The report on August new home sales is due for release at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT). In addition, the government's final estimate for second-quarter gross domestic produce was due at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT).

Plane maker Boeing Co was also in the spotlight after British Airways ended decades of loyalty to Boeing's 747 jumbo on Thursday when the airline switched to Airbus, ordering 12 of the European plane maker's A380 jets, the biggest airliner in production. ID:nL27230573 REUTERS MP HS1714

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