The Associated Press December 14, 2010, 8:29AM ET

Stocks headed higher ahead of Senate vote on taxes

A test vote in the Senate supporting an extension of tax cuts for all Americans is giving stocks a lift. But investors are awaiting information on retail sales and wholesale prices before making any big bets on the market.

Stocks are set for a mostly higher opening Tuesday after the Senate voted late Monday to advance the nearly $900 billion tax-cut legislation toward final passage. A vote that would send the proposal to the House is expected Tuesday.

Economists predict that retail sales rose for the fifth straight month in November, helped by early holiday shopping. In October, total retail sales rose by 1.2 percent, the largest gain in seven months. This time, economists are looking for a 0.6 percent rise in sales in November.

Wholesale prices likely increased in November by the most in eight months due to rising costs for food, energy and vehicles. Economists forecast that the Producer Price Index, which measures price changes before they reach the consumer, rose 0.6 percent last month, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters. The index has increased 0.4 percent for the past three months.

"I don't think anybody is expecting any terrible news today," said Philip S. Dow, director of equity strategy at RBC Wealth Management in Minneapolis.

Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures are up 4, or less than 0.1 percent, to 11,431. Standard and Poor's 500 index futures are up less than a point to 1,237. Nasdaq 100 futures are down 2, or 0.1 percent, to 2,208.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues will also gather Tuesday for their last scheduled meeting of 2010, although no policy changes are expected. Instead, Fed policymakers will examine the effectiveness of their $600 billion bond-buying program and discuss the implications of a tax-cut plan emerging from Congress.

In corporate news, shares of Best Buy Co. fell $3.74, or 8.9 percent, to $37.96 in pre-market trading after the retailer said its third-quarter net income fell more than expected as it lost sales of TVs and mobile devices to competitors. It also cut its full-year outlook

The dollar fell 0.4 percent against six other heavily traded currencies. Treasury prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 3.31 percent from 3.28 percent late Monday.


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