Stocks set for modestly higher open

NEW YORK (AP) - August 24, 2009 - -

Stock futures were rising Monday, pointing to a moderately higher open as investors look to build on last week's momentum that sent major indexes to their highest levels of the year.

U.S. markets are poised Monday to follow sharp gains overseas. Investors were encouraged by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's declaration Friday that the economy is on the verge of recovery.

Traders will get plenty of data on housing and the consumer to sort through this week to determine if Bernanke's upbeat view can be backed up by actual activity.

A collapse of the housing market was one of the primary reasons the nation's economy fell into recession nearly two years ago. A better-than-expected report Friday on existing homes sales helped buoy the market along with Bernanke's comments.

Investors receive two reports on housing prices Tuesday and data on new home sales Wednesday.

Improved consumer confidence and spending is widely seen as one of the keys that could help end the recession. Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of all economic activity.

On Tuesday, the Conference Board releases its monthly consumer confidence index. Reuters and the University of Michigan report their final consumer sentiment figures for August on Friday.

Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 28, or 0.3 percent, to 9,517. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures rose 3.40, or 0.3 percent, to 1,028.60, while Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 2.25, or 0.1 percent, to 1,637.75.

On Friday, the Dow surged 1.7 percent, closing above 9,500 for the first time since Nov. 4, after Bernanke's encouraging words at an annual Fed conference in Wyoming. The S&P gained 1.9 percent, closing at its highest level since Oct. 6.

Meanwhile, bond prices fell Monday as the Treasury Department prepares for its latest round of auctions this week. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 3.60 percent from 3.57 percent late Friday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, rose to 0.17 percent from 0.16 percent late Friday.

The dollar mostly rose against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average surged 3.4 percent. In afternoon trading, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.5 percent, Germany's DAX index gained 0.6 percent, and France's CAC-40 rose 0.6 percent.

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