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Wall Street points higher after modest decline

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[December 30, 2008]  NEW YORK (AP) -- Investors nearing the end of a brutal 2008 made some modest bets Tuesday, pointing Wall Street toward a higher open. The market was awaiting a reading on consumer confidence during December.

DonutsWith many traders away for the holidays, stocks have shown small moves in light volume in recent sessions. Most investors are looking past 2008 for clues about how stocks will fare in the coming year. The major stock market indicators are down 36 percent to 43 percent for the year.

Investors will be eager Tuesday for insights into the mood of consumers, whose reluctance to spend has further dented an already troubled economy. The holiday shopping season has been a dismal one for most retailers, a troubling development for Wall Street as consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.

Wall Street expects the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index to edge up to 45 in December from 44.9 in November, according to economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

The November reading was at about half the level seen a year earlier and was near the 43.2 last seen in December 1974, when the economy was grappling with a 16-month recession.


The index, compiled from a survey of 5,000 U.S. households, is due at 10 a.m. EST.

Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 12, or 0.14 percent, to 8,500. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures rose 6.20, or 0.71 percent, to 876.60, while Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 11.25, or 0.96 percent, to 1,186.75.

The Dow slipped 32 points Monday, while the broader indexes showed steeper declines.

Bond prices rose Tuesday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 2.09 percent from 2.10 percent late Monday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, slipped to 0.25 percent from 0.03 percent late Monday.

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Light, sweet crude fell 67 cents to $39.35 in premarket electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil prices rose Monday as investors worried fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza would disrupt oil shipments.

The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices fell.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 1.28 percent. In afternoon trading, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.97 percent, Germany's DAX index rose 1.54 percent, and France's CAC-40 rose 0.72 percent.


On the Net:

New York Stock Exchange: http://www.nyse.com/

Nasdaq Stock Market: http://www.nasdaq.com/

[Associated Press; By TIM PARADIS]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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