Stocks set to start the week higher

By staff

NEW YORK ( -- U.S. stock markets are expected to open slightly higher Monday as they begin the final trading week of 2009 Monday, with all three of the major indexes at their peaks for the year.

Dow Jones industrial average, Nasdaq-100 and S&P-500 futures were all higher. Futures measure current index values against their perceived future performance and offer an indication of how markets may open when trading begins.

Stocks have risen the past five sessions, including all 3-1/2 days of last week's holiday-shortened trading. The Dow posted a 0.5% weekly gain, while the S&P rose 1.8%. The Nasdaq added 4.3% last week.

The year-end holidays will again influence trading. With many market participants on vacation and traders focused on the upcoming new year, Wall Street is gearing up for an unpredictable week amid light trading volume.

While New Year's Eve, on Thursday, is a full trading day, all markets are closed Friday for the New Year's Day holiday.

Despite the upward momentum, airline stocks could take a beating following a failed terror attack over the Christmas holiday.

"This attempted terrorist attack is putting some pressure on the airline sector this morning. But in general, the year-end rally will continue and will probably close the year at record highs," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist for Avalon Partners.

Retail stocks may fare better during the session on reports of slightly better sales this year. On Tuesday, the Conference Board will release a reading on consumer confidence for December. No economic reports are scheduled for release Monday.

World markets: Asian markets ended mixed, with Tokyo's Nikkei index up 1.3% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index down 0.2%. In Europe, markets in France and Germany were higher in midday trading; British markets are closed for the Boxing Day celebration.

Other markets: The dollar eased against the euro, yen and pound.

Crude oil for February delivery rose 26 cents to $78.31 a barrel.

Gold for February delivery rose $7.20 to $1,112 per ounce. To top of page

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