Wall Street eyes further signs of year-end rally

U.S. stock index futures signaled a higher open on Monday after a record close on Friday, still fueled by the pledge from the Federal Reserve to remain "patient" in hiking interest rates.

U.S. stocks rose for a third session on Friday, with the S&P 500 tallying its second best week in nearly two years after Fed Chair Janet Yellen's policy statement on Wednesday and the stabilization in the oil price buoyed markets.

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Getty Images
Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Oil prices rose in early trading on Monday with a consensus spread that Brent crude prices would likely remain above $60 for the rest of the year. Front-month Brent was trading at $62.04 and U.S. WTI's front-month contracts were up $0.69 at $57.82 a barrel.

"The marked decline in oil prices in the past few months might have led to sharp adjustments in the inflation projections of Fed officials, which might allow policymakers to maintain accommodative policy throughout 2015," said chief economist at Daiwa Capital Markets, Michael Moran.

"However, Chair Yellen indicated that policymakers expected the effects of low oil prices to be transitory," he added.

In the coming week, trading will be compressed into three and a half days because of Thursday's Christmas holiday and an early close Christmas Eve.

Data releases expected on Monday include existing home sales. The third look at third-quarter GDP, durable goods and personal consumption are all due Tuesday, and weekly jobless claims are expected Wednesday.

European shares were higher on Monday with sentiment boosted by a rebound in the price of oil and the Russian ruble.

Earnings expected Monday include office furniture firm Steelcase.