Wall Street Headed For A Year In The Black, Barely

Published December 30, 2011 2:18PM (EST)

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street headed for a mixed open on the final trading day of the year, but it appears that a raucous 2012 will close in the black.

Positive jobs numbers on Thursday and potentially promising data from the housing market were followed Friday by news from Ford, which reported that auto sales this year topped 2 million. That is the first time that's happened since the economic collapse began in 2007.

Oil prices slipped, but a barrel of crude is still trading around $99.

There were no major economic reports scheduled for Friday, and it appeared that momentum from the most recent employment and housing data will help support stocks for a second day.

Dow futures fell 0.07 percent, or 8 points, to 12,209 in premarket trading. The Dow was the star in U.S. markets in 2011, up 6.2 percent for the year.

S&P 500 futures rose 0.02 percent, or 0.20 points, to 1,257.60, meaning it's just edging into the black, up 0.5 percent.

The Nasdaq composite ended the year on a sour note, dropping 0.06 percent in December, but it is up 2.8 for the year. In premarket trading, the Nasdaq was down 0.04 percent to 2,276.25.

The government said Thursday that the number of people applying for unemployment benefits each week had dropped by 10 percent since January and pending home sales jumped to their highest point in a year and a half.

Still, investors will wait to see if those home sales actually stick. A growing number of buyers are canceling their contracts at the last minute, making the gauge less reliable, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Investors are also awaiting a raft of data next week that have a close link to hiring, including the ISM manufacturing numbers for December, as well as construction spending and factory orders from November.

There are also more employment numbers on tap.

Markets are closed Monday in observance of New Year's Day.

By Salon Staff

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