Futures Hold Gains After Personal Spending

Futures gained Monday, following a better-than-expected personal spending report and after a worst-case scenario was avoided over the weekend as the East Coast was hit by hurricane Irene.

However, local travel in the New York area will be difficult, and analysts have predicted that trading volumes will be light as commuters find it difficult to get to New York's financial district.

On the economic front, consumer spending rebounded strongly by 0.8 percent in July to post the largest increase in five months according to the Commerce Department. Economists expected spending to rise 0.5 percent, according to a Reuters poll.

Pending home sales data for June will be released at 10 am ET.

Gold was trading lower, and the dollar was also down on speculation that the Federal Reserve may offer more monetary stimulus.

Insurers are likely to be watched carefullyas the damages caused by Hurrican Irene over the weekend was not as bad as initially feared. Morgan Stanley said they estimate total losses at below $10 billion, while Barclays estimate is $2 to $8 billion.

Shares of Allstate , Hartford and Travelers were trading higher.

Bank of America gained even after at least two firms cut their price target on the financial giant. Rivals Morgan Stanley and Citigroup were also higher.

European stocks rallied, with Greek banks jumping 18 percent on news of a merger between two banks: Eurobank and Alpha Bank. The London Stock Exchange is closed for a bank holiday.

On Tap Next Week:

MONDAY: Pending home sales index, Dallas Fed Mfg survey
TUESDAY: S&P Case-Shiller home price index, consumer confidence, Fed's Kocherlakota speaks, FOMC minutes
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps, Challenger job-cut report, ADP employment report, Chicago PMI, factory orders, oil inventories, USDA's agricultural trade outlook
THURSDAY: Weekly jobless claims, productivity and costs, ISM Mfg index, construction spending, chain store sales, auto sales
FRIDAY: Non-farm payroll

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