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20.12.2010 14:27

Brfore the bell: At the start of a holiday-shortened trading week, U.S. stocks were poised to edge higher at the open as investors focus on 2011.


Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures were up between 0.3% and 0.5% ahead of the opening bell. Futures measure current index values against perceived future performance.

On Friday, stocks ended little changed. Markets hovered at two-year highs hit in the previous session, as President Obama signed a tax-cut plan into law. Stocks have been trending higher since the compromise deal was announced.


The major indexes have risen more than 4% this month, and are poised for double-digit gains for the year. Investors are already looking ahead to 2011 -- and many have pretty bullish outlooks for the new year.

"The run-up that you are seeing here in the next 7 or 8 days is not unusual," said Jim Russell, Partner and CFO at The Collingwood Group -- a financial advisory firm located in Washington DC. He said investors are positioning their portfolios for the new year.

"The first part of 2011, I think there is going to be a continued run-up in the equity market," Russell said. "The market is traveling on short-term information that says we are in a good position. We are recovering, American businesses are going to take off, and we have had some very good news with consumer spending."

Meanwhile, Russell thinks the long-term picture is less rosy. With a stubbornly high unemployment rate, significant lost value in the real estate market, and nearly broke state and local governments -- Russell says there will be a downward shift in the markets over the longer-term.

World markets: European stocks were higher in afternoon trading. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.6%, the DAX in Germany gained 1.1% and France's CAC 40 was up 1.1%.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula were escalated after Seoul's planned live-fire drill. North Korea said the drill could ignite a war, but the country did not act immediately on Monday.

Asian markets ended the session lower. The Shanghai Composite sank 1.4%, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.3% and Japan's Nikkei fell 0.9%.

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