The Day Ahead: All Is Quiet on New Year's Eve

 | Dec 31, 2013 | 8:30 AM EST
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After a spectacular year for U.S. equities, stock futures are heading into the final trading day of 2013 on a subdued note.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed about 25% this year, booking 51 record closes along the way, while the S&P 500 gained nearly 30% and the Nasdaq Composite is approaching a 40% gain.

But U.S. futures were little changed Tuesday morning, even as European stocks were heading for their biggest gains in four years. Asian markets closed mixed overnight, weighed down by a nearly 7% drop in the Shanghai Composite index in 2013.

Tuesday will be a regular session for U.S. exchanges, but they will be closed Wednesday in observation of New Year's Day.

Crude oil futures have struggled to stay above the $100-per-barrel mark, while spot gold continues its slide, down to about $1,200 an ounce and heading for a 28% loss for the year.

The last round of economic reports for 2013 includes the S&P/Case-Shiller survey of home prices in 20 U.S. cities at 9 a.m. ET. The Institute for Supply Management releases the Chicago Purchasing Managers' Index at 9:45, and the Conference Board's consumer confidence index is due at 10 a.m. No earnings reports are scheduled for release on this final day of the fourth quarter.

In company news, billionaire Warren Buffett's investment vehicle Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A/BRK.B) is buying a Phillips 66 (PSX) chemicals unit in a deal worth $1.4 billion. Phillips 66 shares were up more than 1% in premarket trading.

Netflix (NFLX) terminated a shareholder-rights plan earlier than expected and bumped CEO Reed Hastings' salary higher by 50%. At the same time, management announced that the company is testing a new price structure for multi-user streaming accounts.

Twitter (TWTR) is a stock to watch today after the micro bloggers' shares took a two-day slide. The stock is up more than 2% in early action.

Finally, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) announced an additional 5,000 layoffs for 2014, bringing the total number of job cuts to about 34,000.

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