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Wall Street signals quiet start to 2009

NEW YORK (AP) ó Wall Street expected to start the new year with quiet trading Friday. Stock futures showed little direction as most investors appeared to be waiting until Monday to begin 2009 trading in earnest.
The final session of a holiday-shortened week follows a terrible year for investors that saw the Dow Jones industrial average fall 33.8 percent ó its worst year since 1931.
The Institute for Supply Management was releasing its December manufacturing report at 10 a.m. EST. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters forecast that the ISM’s manufacturing activity index, compiled from a survey of corporate purchasing managers, fell to 35.5 in December from 36.2 in November ó a 26-year low. Any reading above 50 signals growth, while a reading below 50 indicates contraction.
Wall Street has largely factored in more disappointing economic news. Trading was expected to be light, with many investors taking a long holiday weekend. However, light trading can exaggerate price moves.
There was little corporate news other than the completion earlier this week of some major banking acquisitions. Bank of America Corp. finalized its deal to acquire Merrill Lynch & Co. Wells Fargo & Co. closed its acquisition of Wachovia Corp., while PNC Financial Services Group Inc. bought National City Corp.
The deals came after the banking sector was hit hard by the ongoing mortgage and credit turmoil. Banks facing liquidity issues and rising loan losses were forced to make deals to remain in business.
Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 1 point, or 0.01 percent, to 8,726. Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures fell 0.8 points, or 0.09 percent, to 899.30, while Nasdaq 100 index futures declined 5 points, or 0.41 percent, to 1,207.50.
Bond prices were mixed. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 2.19 percent from 2.22 percent late Wednesday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, rose to 0.12 percent from 0.08 percent Wednesday.
The dollar rose against other major currencies, while gold prices fell.
Oil prices fell $1.97 to $42.63 in premarket electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average rose 1.3 percent. In afternoon trading, Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.9 percent, Germany’s DAX index rose 1.5 percent, and France’s CAC-40 increased 1.9 percent.
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On the Net:
New York Stock Exchange: http://www.nyse.com
Nasdaq Stock Market: http://www.nasdaq.com

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