RTTNews - After turning in a lackluster performance last week, stocks are poised to open Monday's session modestly higher. The major index futures are currently all in positive territory, with Dow futures up by 23 points.
Trading activity is likely to be subdued for yet another session, however, as some traders are likely to stay on the sidelines ahead of the release of some key economic figures later in the holiday-shortened week.
Traders may be looking ahead to data on home prices, consumer confidence, manufacturing and employment to guide trading amid the low volume summer season.
Amid a light day on the economic front on Monday, the sentencing of Bernard Madoff for his $65 billion Ponzi scheme might be of interest to some investors. Madoff could be sentenced to a maximum of 150 years in prison.
On the earnings front, tax consulting service provider H & R Block (HRB) is slated to release financial results for the fourth quarter after the market closes. Analysts expect the company to report EPS of $2.05 for the quarter.
Apollo Group (APOL) is also due to release its third quarter results after the close of trading, with the education company expected to earn $1.12 per share.
In corporate news, Northrop Grumman (NOC) may gain ground after it said it has received a contract along with Cobham Intercoms LLC for the supply of an upgraded vehicle intercom system from the U.S. Army. The contract is valued at $2.4 billion.
Stocks finished Friday's session on a mixed note, as traders largely shrugged off the day's economic data. While the Nasdaq closed up by 9 points or 0.5 percent at 1,838, the Dow slipped by 34 points or 0.4 percent to 8,438 and the S&P 500 fell 1 point or 0.2 percent to 919.
With the mixed performance for the session, the major averages also closed mixed for the week. While the Nasdaq posted a 0.6 percent gain for the week, the Dow and the S&P 500 posted their second consecutive weekly losses, falling 1.2 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.
Crude oil futures are rising in early commodities trading, climbing by $0.77 to $69.93 a barrel after ending the previous session down $1.07 at $69.16 a barrel. Meanwhile, the price of gold is moving up by $1.30 to $942.30 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is sliding against the major European currencies, falling to $1.4065 against the euro while dropping to $1.6557 against the pound. The dollar is also rising against the yen, moving down to 95.43.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region ended Monday's session on the downside. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed down 1 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slid 0.4 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets are on the rise, with the German DAX Index and French CAC 40 Index both up by 1.6 percent, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is rising 1 percent.
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