US pre-open: New York seen heading higher at kick-off

US stocks are gearing up to kick off the new year on a very positive note as they look to make up for a poor performance on the last full session of 2014.

The full day of trading before New Year’s Eve saw the Dow Jones give up 160 points as the S&P 500 fell 1%, and the Nasdaq retreated 0.9%. But, as CNNMoney points out, despite this disappointing finish to 2014, the year as whole was pretty good for US stocks.

The Dow finished 2014 up 7.5%, with the S&P 500 11.4% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq ahead 13.4%.

For today’s session, US stock index futures are pointing to the Dow jumping 82 points or 0.46% to 17,834 at open. The S&P 500 is seen putting on 8.25 points or 0.4% to 2,060.75, with the Nasdaq ahead 18.75 or 0.44% to 4,251.5.

Energy stocks look likely to be in focus thanks to oil prices starting off the New Year on a volatile note, see-sawing between losses and gains. Late this morning, Brent futures were up 0.5% at $57.63 a barrel, having dropped to $57 a barrel earlier.

Investors will also be viewing oil price movements in the light of overnight data from China revealing that the country’s manufacturing sector purchasing managers’ index (PMI) fell to 50.1 in December from 50.3 in November.

A PMI reading above 50 signals expansion, while less than 50 indicates contraction of the sector.

The December PMI reading is the lowest for 2014, with the Chinese government blaming the fall on reduced export demand, lower factory gate prices and expansion of the services sector. The reading will fuel concern among investors of further weakness in global demand for oil going forward.