Dow Slips, Pointing to Weak End to the Year

The Dow opened modestly lower on New Year's Eve, meaning an otherwise strong year for U.S. stocks could end on a negative note on the final day of trading for the year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell less than 10 points at the open, following on the heels of a weak sessionon Thursday.

Bank of America, Disney and UnitedTechnologies fell, while Verizon and Intel rose.

Investors looked to lock in the year's strong gains in the final trading day of 2010, but even a significantly weaker U.S. dollar wasn't helping the outlook for the session.

The dollar fell more than 0.5 percent against a basket of foreign currenciesand was especially weak against the euro, which hit its highest level against the U.S. currency in more than a month. December marked a possible unwinding of the weak dollar-weak stocks trade, as both rose almost in tandem through the month.

The S&P 500 has gained more than 11 percent throughout the year, while the Nasdaq gained more than 16 percent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 10 percent.

Many market watchers predict that next year will also bring strong results as investors pile into stock markets.

"I expect 2011 to be a very, very good year for stocks," Royce Tostrams, technical analyst at Tostrams Groep, told CNBC, adding he expects the S&P to hit around 1,440.

U.S. stock markets will be open for a full trading day, but the bond market will close at 2 p.m. The New York Stock Exchange said that a full session is required because it's the end of a monthly and yearly accounting period.

"Today's the day you sit back in the library and take in all the data," Michael Gurka, founding principal of BruinHill Partners, told CNBC, adding that he expects stocks to move very little throughout the session.

There is no economic news expected to be released this session.

European shares pushed lower in light volumes with many of the region's indexes closed and the rest trading for a half day. Many Asian stock markets also closed early and the overall picture was amixed one at the close. Australian stocks saw the sharpest declines.

The price of oil eased even though the dollar fell against other major currencies. A weak dollar also has been the key to surging commodity prices.

Borders sank in pre-market trading after a report in the Wall Street Journal that the bookstore chain was delaying payments to publishers.