U.S. stocks: Dow industrials try for another record close

In what’s setting up to be the usual low-volume post-Christmas day of trade, stocks still looked set to nab some gains on Friday, with futures peeking higher and oil and gold prices shooting north.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJH5, +0.18% rose 28 points to 18,016, while those for the S&P 500 index SPH5, +0.20% gained 3 points to 2,081. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 index NDH5, +0.22% gained 12.25 points, or 0.3%, to 4,294.75.

The Dow industrials DJIA, +0.03% eked out its 37th record close this year in a shortened Christmas Eve session on Wednesday, closing at 18,030.21. The index closed above 18,000 for the first time ever on Tuesday. The S&P 500 SPX, -0.01% halted a five-day winning streak that had brought it to a record as well, as it lost less than a point to close at 2,081.88.

The Dow industrials had the best five-day run before Christmas since 1991, while for the last five trading days of the year, the index is been up 93 times in 117 years, or around 79% of the time. Analysts also said the fact the DJIA is above 18,000 as 2014 closes is an encouraging sign, even as some expect stocks will dip in the New Year. Also see: Santa rally may be deterred by these three factors

Markets will assume normal trading hours for Friday, though volumes are expected to be light. No economic data is on the calendar and European markets are closed until Monday. Asia stocks ADOW, +0.30% mostly rose, with a 2.8% gain for the Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, +2.77% led by banks. Why are China stocks going crazy?

Need to Know: Betting on small caps for 2015

In other markets, the dollar USDJPY, +0.23% held steady above ¥120 against the Japanese currency, while gold prices GCG5, +1.82% shot higher, up around $23 to nearly $1,200 an ounce.

Crude-oil prices CLG5, +0.91% were also getting a lift on Friday, amid concerns about Libyan supply amid fighting around the country’s biggest port. Also, Saudi Arabia projected a huge drop in revenue for 2015 due to lower oil prices, but a former economic adviser told Bloomberg News that the budget assumes $80-a-barrel oil.

Stocks to watch: Keep an eye on Sony Corp. SNE, +0.33% as its Sony Pictures unit division rolled out “The Interview” across independent theaters to sold-out crowds. The studio backtracked from an earlier decision to cancel the release after threats of violence from a computer hacking group that said it was responsible for a major cyberattack on the studio last month.

The movie is also available over Google’s GOOG, +0.60% YouTube and Microsoft Corp.’s MSFT, -0.64% Xbox. Meanwhile, on Christmas Day, users of Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox Live gaming networks experienced outages. A hacker group has claimed responsibility.

Retailers may see some action Friday as shoppers hit the stores to take advantage of sales and return unwanted gifts. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. WMT, -0.27% is also reportedly testing out a new gift-card swap.

 Varchev Traders

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