Stocks headed for rosy start

Wall Street set for opening gains as optimism reigns. Investors await results of big bank tests.

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By staff

After a strong April, how will the major stock indexes fare in May?
  • They'll be higher
  • They'll be lower
  • They'll be flat

NEW YORK( -- U.S. stocks were set to open higher and extend the recent rally Monday, as economic optimism lifted the mood on Wall Street.

At 9 a.m. ET, Dow Jones industrial average, Standard & Poor's 500 and Nasdaq-100 futures were higher.

Futures measure current index values against perceived future performance and offer an indication of how markets may open when trading begins in New York.

Peter Cardillo, chief market economist for Avalon Partners, said that trading this week will be "choppy" ahead of the government stress tests on the banking sector, as well as the job market reports on Friday.

Economy: Investors will look to a report on March construction spending, which is due out at 10 a.m. ET. A reading on pending home sales also comes out at 10 a.m.

Banks: Investors are awaiting the release of the results of the U.S. government's so-called stress tests on banks, which are due out this week.

Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) is among the big banks that reportedly may need to raise capital. According to the Wall Street Journal, the bank may need to generate another $10 billion.

Autos: Italian carmaker Fiat, which recently completed an alliance with Chrysler, is eyeing a deal with the European unit of General Motors (GM, Fortune 500).

Companies: Shareholders descended upon Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.A) annual meeting over the weekend. At the meeting, chief executive Warren Buffett said the firm expects to report a first-quarter operating profit.

Sprint Nextel (S, Fortune 500) reported surprise income excluding unusual items. Shares rose 11% in premarket trading.

World markets: Stocks in Asia rallied, with shares in Taiwan surging. Markets in Japan were closed. Most European markets also rose in morning trading. U.K. markets were closed for a holiday.

Oil and money: The dollar strengthened against major international currencies, including the euro, the yen and the British pound. Oil prices fell 43 cents to $52.77 per barrel. To top of page

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