U.S. stocks: Futures point to upbeat open but low-volume day as Christmas nears

U.S. stock futures pointed to a higher open on Monday, as a rally in oil prices lifted global markets and signaled a return to calm for the shortened Christmas week, after the turmoil of earlier in December.

Later on Monday, attention turns to existing-home sales numbers, the only major data release on the calendar.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJH5, +0.29% climbed 55 points, or 0.3%, to 17,816, while those for the S&P 500 index SPH5, +0.26% added 6 points, or 0.3%, to 2,073.10. Futures for the Nasdaq 100 index NDH5, +0.17% gained 13.75 points, or 0.3%, to 4,296.50

U.S. indexes gave a stellar performance last week, ending with their biggest weekly gains since October, after the Federal Reserve said it’ll be “patient” on the timing of its first rate hike.

“With a quiet day, the Dow may not be able to reach the mythic 18,000 level; however, as long as oil continues its marginal rally, the U.S. markets can relax ahead of Christmas Day on Thursday,” said Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex, in a note.

Volumes are expected to be thin ahead of the Christmas Day holiday on Thursday. Christmas Eve typically sees the lowest trading volumes of the year as investors check out early or take the day off. U.S. stock markets close 1 p.m. Eastern Time on Dec. 24 and are closed on Dec. 25. It’s business as usual on New Year’s Eve.

Oil rebound: Stock markets were Monday buoyed by a rally in oil prices. Crude oil CLG5, -0.68% at one point reclaimed the $58-a-barrel level, and Brent oil LCOG5, -0.31% rose above $62 a barrel.

Oil-related stocks benefited from that rebound: Shares of Occidental Petroleum Corp. OXY, +2.97% were up 1.8% ahead of the open, Halliburton Co. HAL, +3.21% was 0.5% higher and Chevron Corp. CVX, +3.58% gained 0.4%.

Data: On a quiet data day, existing-home sales numbers are the highlight and due at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. The lineup gets much busier on Tuesday, when durable goods, the third release of third-quarter GDP data, FHFA house prices, consumer confidence, new-home sales and personal income numbers all are due.

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