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Stock Futures Rise as Congress Starts Work on Debt Measures

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures rose on expectations President Obama and lawmakers will agree on an interim plan to avert the so-called fiscal cliff.

The Senate resumes its work today after breaking for Christmas. Obama returned to Washington yesterday after taking vacation in Hawaii with his family.

After the stock market closed Wednesday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D, Nev.) that the federal government will reach its $16.394 trillion statutory debt limit on Dec. 31.

Geithner said the Treasury is planning "extraordinary measures" to postpone defaulting on $200 billion in bond payments and create some "headroom" for Washington beyond New Year's Day.

The president now has four days before a deadline that would trigger tax increases and spending cuts. Economists say going off the fiscal cliff could lead to a recession, as growth is sluggish and business owners are cautious about hiring.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 18 points to 13,066. Futures for the S&P 500 were up 2.9 points to 1,416.40. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 6.5 points to 2,635.

The economic calendar in the U.S. Thursday includes jobless claims, new-home sales and consumer confidence.

Gold for February delivery was down $2.60 at $1,657 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while February crude oil contracts were down 4 cents to $90.94 a barrel.

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The benchmark 10-year Treasury was trading at 1.77%. The U.S. dollar index was at 79.43.

-- Written by Parris Kellermann

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