NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
A moderate cooling in world oil prices early Monday to below the key $60 benchmark could provide the catalyst to push stocks higher on Wall Street as bulls hoped to further last week's rally despite a retreat in overseas markets.
Early Monday, S&P and Nasdaq futures with comparisons to fair value, pointing to a slightly higher start on Wall Street.
Oil prices fell below $60 a barrel as more unseasonably warm weather in the Northeast is seen depressing demand for heating oil.
The December light crude futures contract for NYMEX lost 63 cents to $59.95 a barrel in electronic trading, while the December contract for Brent crude fell 70 cents to $58.55.
"Oil prices have been a bugaboo in the markets because energy prices take a big chunk out of our budget," said Michael Carty, stock market strategist with New Millennium Advisors. "But oil and gasoline prices have been dropping. This bodes well for business and for consumer sentiment. Anything that improves sentiment will improve the market."
Carty added that investors probably were also anticipating some positive news when tech bellwethers Dell (Research) and Cisco (Research) report quarterly results later in the week.
Major markets in Asia closed lower Monday. Major European markets also were lower in early trading.
Bond prices were little changed, leaving the yield on the 10-year treasury at the 4.66 percent level reached late Friday. The dollar lost ground against on the euro and the yen following gains of last week.
The New York Times reported that Microsoft (Research) is the leader in bidding for a stake in Time Warner's America Online unit, although the paper reports that sealing a deal has been harder than Time Warner (Research) may have hoped. CNN/Money is also a unit of Time Warner.
The Wall Street Journal said that Internet search engines Yahoo! (Research) and Google (Research) are close to announcing new wireless services, with Yahoo teaming with telecom SBC (Research).
The Times and Journal both report that Yahoo! is also close to announcing a partnership with digital television recording company TiVo (Research).
The Journal also said Walt Disney (Research) has decided to slow production of some animated titles, according to people familiar with the situation, despite its first major computer-generated animated movie, "Chicken Little" opening with a box office leading $40 million in sales this past weekend.
There are no major economic reports or earnings report scheduled for Monday to help set early direction for stocks.
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