US STOCKS-Futures flat after big run-up

* S&P 500 hover near pre-Lehman levels

* Futures: Dow up 4 pts, S&P up 0.3 pt, Nasdaq off 1.5 pts

* For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US]

By Edward Krudy

NEW YORK, Dec 22 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. stock index futures were
flat on Wednesday after fours days of gains drove the S&P 500
to new highs, leaving the index near levels reached just before
Lehman Brothers went bankrupt two years ago.

* Despite several technical indicators pointing to an
overbought market after the S&P 500 climbed over 6 percent this
month, interest from institutional investors could sustain a
thinly traded market through the holiday period.

* “There seems to be a pretty good rush to get more fully
invested before the year is up,” said Rick Meckler, president
of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in New York.
“The hedge funds and mutual funds who have been underweighted
have used the last several days to bring themselves back to
neutral if not a long position.”

* High levels of bullishness and the S&P 500 relative
strength index (RSI) are among indicators pointing to an
overbought condition, but Meckler said that was unlikely to be
worked off before traders return in force in January.

* “The investment focus has shifted from fears of deficit
spending to a lot excitement over the liquidity that’s been
added to the market,” said Meckler. “We are in an overbought
condition, but there wont be enough people around from now
until the end of the year to bring it off.”

* S&P 500 futures (SPc1: ) rose 0.3 point and were above fair
value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account
interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the
contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures (DJc1: ) rose 4
points, while Nasdaq 100 futures (NDc1: ) fell 1.5 points.

* Resource-related stocks will be in focus as crude oil
futures (CLc1: ) rose to 0.4 percent to top $90 a barrel after
data showed a drop in U.S. oil and gasoline inventories amid a
winter cold snap in the United States and Europe.

* In a relatively quiet week for economic data, the
existing home sales report is due at 10:00 a.m. EST (1500 GMT),
while the final estimate of third-quarter gross domestic
product is expected at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT). The data will
likely need to be outliers to drive the market in either
direction.

* Existing home sales are seen rising to 4.71 million in
November, compared with 4.43 million in the prior month, while
Q3 final GDP is seen up 2.8 percent versus the prior reading of
2.5 percent, according to a Reuters survey.

* Shares of Boeing Co (BA.N: ) may be in the spotlight after
the company said it was set to announce the resumption of test
flights for its 787 Dreamliner plane, which have been halted
since last month due to technical problems. [ID:nTOE6BL022]

* Also in view, Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O: ) is working on a
version of its core Windows operating system for devices such
as tablets, according to reports. Also, the company said its
Windows Phone 7 software is making headway in the booming
smartphone market. [ID:nN21276668]

* Investors will keep an eye on geopolitical hot spots.
South Korea announced military exercises, including its
largest-ever live-fire drill near North Korea just as tensions
on the peninsula were beginning to ease after Pyongyang’s
attack on a southern island. [ID:nTOE6BL01T]

* European shares were flat on Wednesday, while Japan’s
Nikkei average (.N225: ) dipped 0.2 percent, backing away from a
seven-month intraday high reached earlier after downbeat
comments from the prime minister on the economy.
(Reporting by Edward Krudy; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

US STOCKS-Futures flat after big run-up