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US Futures Follow European Markets Higher

Stock futures are following markets overseas higher, with U.S. automakers putting out some strong year-end sales numbers.KEEPING SCORE: Dow Jones industrial futures are up 38 points to 16,426. S&P futures have gained 4.8 points to 1,831.40. Nasdaq futures are up 6.5 points to 3,565.75.US futures follow European

MOTOR CITY: Chrysler’s U.S. sales rose 6 percent in the final month of the year, the company said Friday. Industry analysts expect a total U.S. sales gain of about 4 percent in December and an annual gain of around 8 percent. Chrysler’s sales rose 9 percent for the year. All automakers are releasing sales numbers.

SLOW EURO-GOING: The European Central Bank says that loans to companies slipped by 3.1 percent in November from a year earlier. Europe’s economic recovery has been slow, and lackluster lending suggests that confidence is less than robust. Still, Spain reported Friday that the number of people registered as unemployed fell by 107,570 in December, the biggest drop on record for the month and welcome news for an economy rattled by a two-year recession.

OVER THERE: In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent at 6,729.32 while Germany’s DAX rose 0.4 percent to 9,438.98. France’s CAC-40 added 0.7 to 4,257.88. China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite Index shed 1.2 percent to 2,083.14, adding to the previous day’s 0.3 percent loss.

CORPORATE NEWS: Boeing machinists will decide Friday whether to accept a contract that would cut some pension and health care benefits in exchange for ensuring that the company’s new 777X airplane is built in Washington state. The offer has fractured the union and drawn unusual pleas from politicians who say the deal is necessary to support the region’s economic future.

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