MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Monday, December 20, 2010

Indications: U.S. stock futures steady in quiet trade

Stock Assault 2.0 - Artificial Intelligence Stock Market Software

By Polya Lesova, MarketWatch

LONDON (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures straddled the flat line on Monday in quiet pre-Christmas trading, as traders kept an eye on heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\h11 (DJH11 11,440, +10.00, +0.09%)  gained 5 points to 11,435 and S&P 500 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\h11 (SPH11 1,239, +1.00, +0.08%)  were virtually flat at 1,239.30.

Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\h11 (NDH11 2,215, +2.00, +0.09%)  rose 2.5 points to 2,215.70.

Travel chaos across Europe

Snow wreaks havoc on travelers across Western Europe on Sunday with thousands of flights cancelled. Video courtesy of Reuters.

The blue-chip Dow index /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 11,492, -7.34, -0.06%)  rose 0.7% last week, finishing with gains for three consecutive weeks.

“With no major economic announcements on the calendar, those traders who have made it to their desks are resigning themselves to another uninspiring day,” said Yusuf Heusen, senior sales trader at IG Index.

Asian stocks finished mostly lower overnight, with Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average slipping 0.9%.

South Korea’s Kospi index fell 0.3%, as tensions on the Korean peninsula returned to the spotlight.

South Korea on Monday conducted an artillery drill using live fire on Yeonpyeong island, the same island that North Korea attacked last month, according to media reports.

In Europe, equity markets posted gains, with the Stoxx Europe 600 index /quotes/comstock/22c!sxxp (ST:STOXX600 277.90, +1.48, +0.54%)  advancing 0.5% in intraday trading.

Airline shares, however, came under selling pressure as severe winter weather disrupted hundreds of flights across Europe. Shares of British Airways PLC /quotes/comstock/23s!a:bay (UK:BAY 265.30, -4.90, -1.81%)  slumped 2.1% in London.

After the U.S. stock market closes on Monday, Adobe Systems Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!adbe/quotes/nls/adbe (ADBE 28.79, +0.27, +0.95%)  will release fiscal fourth-quarter results. Analysts polled by FactSet Research expect the design-software maker to report earnings excluding one-time items of 52 cents a share and $988.2 million in revenue.

In the commodity markets, oil futures gained 16 cents to $88.18 a barrel in electronic trading on Globex. Gold futures rose $2.90 to $1,382.10 an ounce.

The dollar rose against most of its major rivals except the Japanese yen. The euro fell 0.4% to $1.3140 and the dollar dropped 0.2% to 83.81 yen.

The dollar index /quotes/comstock/11j!i:dxy0 (DXY 80.36, -0.02, -0.02%) , which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of other major currencies, gained 0.2% to 80.494.

Polya Lesova is chief of MarketWatch’s London bureau.

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