Reuters - Economic News

U.S. stocks open lower after recent rally

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York December 22, 2014.   REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York December 22, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Carlo Allegri

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures were slightly lower on Monday, as investors found few reasons to keep pushing shares higher following a sharp rally that has taken major indexes to repeated records.

The Dow has risen for seven straight sessions, the longest streak for the blue-chip average since March 2013, while the S&P 500 is up 5.9 percent over the past seven sessions, ending at its 52nd record close of the year on Friday.

The speed and scale of the rally could make further gains difficult to come by, especially in the final trading week of the year, when many market participants are out on holiday and there are few trading catalysts. Trading volume is expected to remain light, which could leave the market more susceptible to big swings.

Biotechnology stocks were among the biggest movers in premarket. Gilead Sciences Inc (GILD.O) rose 2.1 percent to $ 95.75 before the bell after Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock to “overweight” from “equal-weight.” Juno Therapeutics Inc (JUNO.O) was up 7.1 percent to $ 52.20 after the company disclosed in an 8-K filing that it has authorized a stock buyback program of 495 million shares.

Energy shares will continue to be in focus as crude oil CLc1 rose 1 percent to $ 55.29 on concerns about disruption to exports from Libya.Oil has dropped in 12 of the past 13 weeks, weighing on the S&P energy index .SPNY, which is by far the weakest sector of the year, down 9 percent.

U.S.-listed shares of the National Bank of Greece (NBG.N) fell 9.6 percent to $ 1.79 premarket after the country’s parliament failed to elect a new president, throwing the state of the country’s international bailout into doubt. The main Athens stock market index .ATG fell 4.6 percent.

Indexes were on track to close out a third straight positive month. Thus far in December, the Dow is up 1.3 percent, the S&P has added 1 percent and the Nasdaq is up 0.3 percent. In the fourth quarter, the Dow has gained 5.9 percent, the S&P has risen 5.9 percent and the Nasdaq has jumped 7 percent. Both the S&P and Nasdaq were on track for their eighth straight quarterly gain, the longest for the S&P since 1998 and the longest for the Nasdaq since 1996.

In 2014, the Dow is up 8.9 percent, on the way to a sixth straight yearly gain, the S&P is up 13 percent and the Nasdaq is up 15 percent. Recent gains this year were fueled by strong economic data as well as accommodative measures from the Federal Reserve.

(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

Reuters: Economic News

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