US STOCKS-S&P 500 set to inch higher at open

* S&P 500 hovers near pre-Lehman levels

* Walgreen jumps on earnings

* Financial, mining stocks rise premarket

* Futures: Dow off 2 pts, S&P up 0.3 pts, Nasdaq off 2.75

* For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US]
(Adds analyst quote, updates prices)

By Edward Krudy

NEW YORK, Dec 22 (BestGrowthStock) – S&P 500 stock index futures
edged higher on Wednesday as traders looked to extend four days
of gains that drove the S&P 500 to levels reached just before
Lehman Brothers went bankrupt two years ago.

Despite 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.

“They’re just trying to close out the year well,” said
Wayne Kaufman, chief market analyst at John Thomas Financial in
New York. “A lot of the bearish patterns or indicators over the
last few weeks have failed, and a failed bearish setup is very
bullish.”

In premarket trading, materials and banking stocks, sectors
that have helped lead the recent rally, were stronger. Bank of
American Corp (BAC.N: ) rose 0.6 percent to $13.06, while Alcoa
Inc (AA.N: ) rose 0.6 percent to $14.98.

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: ) fell 2
points, while Nasdaq 100 futures (NDc1: ) fell 2.75 points.

The S&P 500 is within striking distance of 1,255.08, a
level seen before the Lehman collapse in September 2008 and an
important psychological barrier for investors.

Resource-related stocks will be in focus as crude oil
futures (CLc1: ) topped $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 corporate news, Nike Inc (NKE.N: ) posted future orders
that missed expectations Tuesday, sending shares of the world’s
largest athletic shoe and clothing maker down 5.4 percent to
$87.30 premarket.

Walgreen Co (WAG.N: ) posted higher profit on increased
prescription sales and a slower pace of store openings that
helped control costs, sending its shares up 7.8 percent to
$39.70 premarket.

Geopolitics is a wild card. 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]

U.S. economic growth was a touch stronger than previously
estimated in the third quarter, but consumer spending was
softer. [ID:nN22291718]
(Reporting by Edward Krudy; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

US STOCKS-S&P 500 set to inch higher at open