Stocks set to post modest gains

By staff

NEW YORK( -- U.S. stock futures rose Monday, as investors continued to bet that the sluggish recovery would spur the Federal Reserve to step in and boost the economy.

Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures were slightly higher ahead of the opening bell. Futures measure current index values against perceived future performance.

The U.S. government and Treasury market are closed for Columbus Day, but all other financial markets are open.

"Absent of any news, the market will continue to drift higher, given that the focus remains to be likelihood of the Fed's action," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.

"Anything that gives investors reason to pause and reconsider the idea that the Fed will pump more liquidity into the system would be a detriment to equity prices," he added.

Stocks rallied Friday, pushing the blue-chip Dow above 11,000, after the U.S. Labor Department reported a sharp drop in jobs in September.

The disappointing employment figures have raised expectations among investors, that the central bank will move to jolt the economy with another round of stimulus.

Luschini added that corporate earnings will also be in the spotlight this week, and investors are expecting strong profits. He said the results should be "icing on the cake" for markets.

Economy: No major economic reports are on tap, but Janet Yellen, vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, will address the annual meeting of the National Association for Business Economics at 2:45 p.m. ET.

Companies: Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) will unveil a new line of phones running the Windows Phone 7 operating system in New York at 9:30 a.m. ET. The tech giant's stock was up 0.6% in premarket trading.

World markets: European stocks moved higher in afternoon trading. Britain's FTSE 100, France's CAC 40 and the DAX in Germany were all up about 0.2%.

Asian markets ended the session with solid gains. The Shanghai Composite soared about 2.5% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong jumped nearly 1.2%. Japanese markets were closed.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar rose against the Japanese yen, the British pound and the euro.

Oil for November delivery rose 19 cents to $82.85 a barrel.

Gold futures for December delivery climbed $3.90 to $1,349.20 an ounce.  To top of page

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