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Wall Street set to finish year with bumper annual gains

U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a slightly higher open on Tuesday, in what is expected to be a thin day of trade during the last session of the year.

Stock futures retained modest gains after data had the S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index rising 0.2 percent in October from the month before, and 13.6 percent from the year earlier. Chicago PMI for December is due at 9:45 a.m. Eastern and consumer confidence for December is set to be released at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Trading volume is expected to be thin -- as is typical during the holidays -- with Wall Street closed on Wednesday for New Year's day. The NYSE is open for a full day of trading on Tuesday.

There are no major company reports expected.

It comes after stocks finished little changed on Monday, with the S&P 500 on track for its largest yearly increase in 16 years, after a report on pending home sales came in below expectations.

Knocking out another record close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 25.88 points, or 0.2 percent, at 16,504.29, with Walt Disney leading blue-chip gains after Guggenheim Securities upgraded the entertainment company to a "buy" from "neutral."

In position for its fourth-consecutive monthly gain, the S&P 500 declined a fraction to 1,841.07, with energy the poorest performing and consumer discretionary faring the best among its 10 major sectors.

The Nasdaq fell 2.4 points to 4,154.19. For 2103, the S&P 500 has clocked gains of 29 percent, the Dow 25 percent and the Nasdaq 100 Index 34 percent.

Meanwhile in Europe on Tuesday, markets were slightly higher in morning trade, completing their most successful year of this decade.

In Asian trading on Tuesday, markets were quiet with Tokyo -- the region's star performer this year after its government brought in more aggressive monetary policies -- shut. The Nikkei index closed 2013 with a 57 percent annual gain.

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