US Stock Futures Signal Slightly Higher Open

   on December 26 2012 6:38 AM

The U.S. stock index futures pointed to a slightly higher open Wednesday with markets prepared to reopen after Christmas holiday.

The futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.11 percent, the futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were up 0.07 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were up 0.25 percent.

Trading volume is expected to be significantly low as market participants return from the holiday period and no major economic and corporate data are due to be released during the day.

Investors continue to focus on the US fiscal cliff as lawmakers are set to resume budget talks later this week. Lawmakers in Washington have only less than one week to strike a budget deal, which will avert the $600 billion spending cuts and tax hikes that threaten to push the world’s largest economy into a recession early next year.

President Barack Obama is expected to return to Washington early Thursday to address the unfinished "fiscal cliff" negotiations with the Congress. Market participants are discouraged by knowing that Obama and the congressional leaders are not making advances toward coming to an agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff, consisting of tax rises and spending cuts.

The U.S. stock markets ended lower in a shortened Christmas Eve session Monday as fiscal cliff concerns dampened sentiment. The Republican lawmakers called off a vote on an alternative plan -- Plan B -- designed to help avert the fiscal cliff citing lack of support. House Speaker John Boehner has been working to gain support for his Plan B, which would allow tax rates to rise on households earning more than $1 million.

Asian stock markets advanced Wednesday with Japanese shares extending their gains after a rally in the previous session on expectations that incoming Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would pursue drastic stimulus measures to boost the economy. Japanese benchmark Nikkei surged 1.49 percent and South Korea’s KOSPI Composite advanced 0.41 percent, while Chinese Shanghai Composite gained 0.25 percent.

Shinzo Abe was sworn in as prime minister Wednesday after a gap of over five years and is also expected to select his cabinet later in the day. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) led by Shinzo Abe has won two-thirds of the seats in the Japanese lower house on the back of promising a rapid economic recovery. The yen started declining since Abe’s landslide victory as he has been pressurizing the BOJ for further monetary stimulus to boost the world’s third largest economy.

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