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US STOCKS-Futures point to flat open, but strong weekly gains

Ryan Vlastelica
Friday, 27 Dec 2013 | 8:56 AM ET

* Investors seek catalysts with indexes at record levels

* Dow on track for best two-week period since June 2012

* Textron to buy Beechcraft for $1.4 billion in cash

* Futures up: Dow 9 pts, S&P 0.4 pt, Nasdaq 2.5 pts

NEW YORK, Dec 27 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were flat on Friday, with investors reluctant to make big bets after a rally that took major indexes repeatedly to all-time highs.

Trading volume is expected to be light, as it has been all week. Many market participants are still out for the Christmas holiday, and there are few catalysts to pull traders into the market.

Equities have been on a tear lately, with the Dow notching its sixth straight advance on Thursday, the longest daily streak for the blue chip average since March.

Both the Dow and S&P 500 are on track for a second straight week of solid gains, with the S&P looking to post its best two-week period since July while the Dow posts its best two weeks since June 2012.

While further gains may be difficult to come by, amid a dearth of trading catalysts, there will likely be a floor under equity prices as long as the Federal Reserve continues its stimulus.

"It is very quiet, but we still have a slight bias to the upside," said John Brady, senior vice president at R.J. O'Brien & Associates in Chicago. "There's nothing meaningful to trade off of, so the market will probably just drift around today, maybe go slightly higher."

S&P 500 futures rose 0.4 point and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 9 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 2.5 point.

For the week, the Dow is up 1.6 percent, the S&P is up 1.3 percent and the Nasdaq is up 1.5 percent.

The S&P 500 has soared 29.2 percent this year, largely due to the Fed's stimulus. The index is on track for its best year since 1997. The Dow has gained 25.8 percent in 2013 while the Nasdaq has jumped 38 percent.

In company news, Textron Inc agreed to buy aircraft maker Beechcraft Corp for $1.4 billion in cash. Shares of Textron rose 0.6 percent to $36.40 in premarket trading.

General Motors Co's China joint venture will recall close to 1.5 million vehicles due to potential safety issues in one of the biggest recalls in the world's biggest auto market. Shares of GM dipped 0.4 percent to $41.36 in premarket trading.

Wall Street rose on Thursday, boosted as strong data about the holiday shopping season lifted retail stocks. The Dow rose to a record closing high for the sixth straight session while the S&P scored its fourth record close in a row.

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