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Stock futures flat as Wall Street looks to take a breather after run to records

Stock-index futures traded near unchanged Monday ahead of the next-to-last session of a blockbuster year for equities.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial AverageYMH20, +0.07%  up 19 points, or 0.1%, at 28,629, while S&P 500 futures ESH20, +0.08% edged up 2.15 points, or 0.1%, to 3,239.75. Nasdaq-100 futures were 4.25 points higher at 8,788. Futures on all three indexes have flipped between small gains and losses.

The Dow DJIA, +0.08%  and S&P 500SPX, +0.00%  each closed at records on Friday. The Dow squeaked out a gain of 23.87 points, or 0.1%, to end at 28,645.26, while the S&P 500 crept higher by 0.11 point to end at 3,240.02. The Nasdaq Composite COMP, -0.17%  gave up 15.77 points Friday to end at 9,006.62, a loss of 0.2%. All three major indexes scored gains for the holiday-shortened week, with the Dow rising 0.7%, the S&P 500 advancing 0.6% and the Nasdaq Composite up 0.9%.

That’s left the Dow on track for a 2019 gain of 22.8%, while the S&P 500 is up 29.3% so far this year. The Nasdaq Composite has gained 35.7% in the year to date.

Analysts said stocks remained buoyant on expectations U.S.-China trade tensions would stay subdued after the two sides earlier this month announced an agreement on a “phase-one” deal that aimed to resolve less controversial aspects of a long-running battle.

Meanwhile, trading conditions remain thin in another holiday-shortened week, with markets in the U.S. and much of the world set to be closed on Wednesday for the New Year’s Day holiday.

“With many investors still in holiday mode, global stocks continued to hover near their 2019 highs. Easing trade worries and less Brexit uncertainty were the two key components of December’s equity rally and investors are continuing to enjoy some festive cheer in the final trading days of the year,” said Hussen Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM, in a note.

Global financial markets showed little lasting reaction to U.S. military strikes in Iraq and Syria over the weekend. U.S. forces conducted “precision defensive strikes” against five sites controlled by Kataeb Hezbollah, or Hezbollah Brigades, an Iran-backed Iraqi militia, a Defense Department spokesman said Sunday. The U.S. has blamed the militia for a rocket barrage on Friday that killed a U.S. defense contractor at a military compound near Kirkuk, in northern Iraq.

Gold, a traditional haven, was lower in early Monday action, while prices for Treasurys rose, pushing down yields.

The economic calendar features November trade data at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, with a reading of the Chicago-area purchasing managers index for December due at 9:45 a.m.. Figures on November pending home sales are set for release at 10 a.m.

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