NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- U.S. stocks were set to open higher Monday as investors remained focused on the economic outlook ahead of a highly anticipated statement from the Federal Reserve later this week.
Wall Street ended last week on a negative note, with stocks falling after the government said the economy lost 131,000 jobs last month. For the full week, however, stocks ended with gains.
The larger-than-expected drop in July payrolls added to concerns about the slowing pace of the economic recovery. It came after a recent spate of disappointing reports on housing, retail sales and consumer confidence.
While there were no major economic reports on the agenda Monday, investors will take in a number of top-tier indicators later this week. Among them are reports on consumer prices and retail sales.
This week's main event will be Tuesday's policy statement from the Federal Reserve. The central bank is widely expected to hold interest rates at historic lows near zero percent, a policy that has been in place since December 2008.
However, investors are eager to see what additional steps the Fed is willing to take to help support the economic recovery, which is turning out to be weaker than many analysts had expected earlier this year.
David Jones, chief market strategist at IG Markets in London, said stocks were supported by expectations the Fed will strike a more dovish tone. "Following the payrolls report on Friday, we may see a softer approach from the Fed," he said.
Stocks have gained relatively little ground so far in August, historically a down month for the market, as trading volumes have been low and many market participants remain on the sidelines, he added.
"We've seen some moves up and down but very little in the way of direction," said Jones.
Companies: Stocks to watch include HP (HPQ, Fortune 500), whose shares tumbled in after-hours trading Friday after chief Mark Hurd resigned after a sexual harassment claim was made against him and the company.
World markets: European markets rallied in morning trading, with Britain's FTSE 100, France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAX all gaining at least 1%.
In Asia, Japan's Nikkei finished the session 0.7% lower. The Shanghai Composite and Hang Seng both gained about 0.5%.
Currencies and commodities: The dollar gained slightly against the U.K. pound, but weakened against the euro and Japanese yen.
Oil futures for September delivery rose 99 cents to $81.69 a barrel.
Gold futures for December delivery gained $3.40 to $1,208.70 an ounce.
|Overnight Avg Rate||Latest||Change||Last Week|
|30 yr fixed||3.83%||3.59%|
|15 yr fixed||2.94%||2.70%|
|30 yr refi||3.78%||3.64%|
|15 yr refi||2.98%||2.84%|
Today's featured rates:
Shari Redstone seems to be at the center of the turmoil engulfing Viacom and her father Sumner Redstone. More
Andrew Crider lost his welding business and his home when the real estate market crashed. Now the Nevada man is offended by comments Donald Trump made showing the billionaire rooted for the housing collapse. More
As the Verizon workers' strike continues to drag on, shares of the telecom giant have lagged the broader market -- as well as top competitors AT&T and Comcast. More
In 1998, Ntsiki Biyela won a scholarship to study wine making. Now she's about to launch her own brand. More
Investing your money in an annuity today could give you a guaranteed lifetime monthly payment when you retire. More