US Stock Futures Signal Higher Open Ahead Of New Year Holiday

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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, February 22, 2011.

The U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open Monday, but trading volume is expected to be low ahead of the New Year holiday.

The futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.23 percent, the futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were up 0.44 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were up 0.09 percent. 

Investors are currently focusing on the fiscal cliff. Market players are discouraged by realizing that President Barack Obama and the congressional leaders are not making advances toward coming to an agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff.

On Friday, the U.S. stocks fell as investor confidence turned negative amid the reports that the Congress leaders were not reaching an agreement to finalize on a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff. Meanwhile, according to the data released Friday by the National Association of Realtors, the Pending Home Sales Report, which measures the change in the number of homes under contract to be sold but still awaiting the closing transaction excluding new construction, rose 1.7 percent in November, down from a 5 percent increase in October.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.21 percent, the S&P 500 Index was down 1.10 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.86 percent.

Asian stocks were mixed Monday with markets in Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan closed for holiday. China's manufacturing activity expanded to a nineteen-month high in December, according to the HSBC Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) released Monday, indicating a moderate improvement in the economic condition of the country. The final reading of the PMI, a measure of the nationwide manufacturing activity, rose to 51.5 in December compared to 50.5 in November.

Meanwhile, according to the data released Monday by the Korea National Statistical Office, the country’s CPI, which measures the change in the price of goods and services from the perspective of the consumer, rose 1.4 percent in December, down from a 1.6 percent increase in November and below the analysts’ expectation of 1.5 percent. 

China’s Shanghai Composite gained 35.88 points and India’s Sensex fell 13.97 points.

European stocks were mixed Monday with investors maintaining a watchful mode tracking global cues. London's FTSE 100 was down 18.03 points and France's CAC 40 gained 6.04 points. Germany's DAX 30 was closed for trading.

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