United States stocks open higher; S&P 500 tracking for best year since 2013

The S&P 500 rose 0.2 percent to close at 2,687.54 with utilities and telecommunications leading advancers, and consumer staples the greatest laggard. The benchmark S&P 500 Index was also higher, closing within half a percent of its all-time high. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 1 point, or 0.1%, to 1,547.

Meanwhile, the Nasdaq composite also added 0.2 percent to close at 6,950.16 as gains in big technology companies like Apple and Facebookoffset declines in biotechnology stocks like Gilead and Amgen.

Stock indexes closed modestly lower on Friday, running out of steam in the final session of 2017, in what has been a stellar record-setting year for USA equities.

Bond trading will wrap up early, at 2 p.m. ET, today and both stock and bond markets will be closed for the New Year holiday on Monday. "I think people are putting off selling until January because they can put off the gains [until the 2018 tax year]".

USA crude oil futures rose Friday, topping $60 a barrel after briefly reaching the 2.5-year high earlier in the week.

The price action was muted again, with the second-fewest amount of shares transacted of any full trading day this year. For the fourth-quarter, the S&P rose 6.1%, the Dow climbed 10.4%, and the Nasdaq rose 6.3%. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion. US markets were closed Monday for the Christmas Day holiday and will be closed this coming Monday for New Year's Day. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast claims to total 239,000.

There are no major US economic reports today.

What are other markets doing?

A note released this week by Wells Fargo Advisors predicted the tax bill could extend the USA economic growth cycle "by a couple of years more", boosting some sectors, such as industrials.

Metals were mostly higher, with gold prices settled at a 10-week high at $1,297.20 an ounce.