December 28, 2018 / 12:29 PM / 18 days ago

US STOCKS-Futures higher as Wall St's post-Christmas rally continues

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* Futures rise: Dow 0.92 pct, S&P 0.95 pct, Nasdaq 0.81 pct

By Medha Singh

Dec 28 (Reuters) - U.S. stock futures were higher on Friday, extending a two-day rally amid volatile trading and raising expectations that the recent selloff may have eased for now.

The final week of 2018 has seen wild swings in equities. The benchmark S&P 500 tested its 20-month low and was at the brink of a bear market territory early in the week before the three main indexes roared back, with their biggest daily surge in nearly a decade on Wednesday and a late rally the following day.

On Thursday, the S&P fell as much as 2.8 percent but closed 0.8 percent higher as the markets turned around late in the session.

The CBOE Volatility Index, an indicator of short-term volatility in the stock market, rose to 36 midweek, its highest level since early February. It has since pulled back below 30, but remains well above a recent low of 15 at the beginning of December.

In a sign of optimism on trade on Friday, China opened the door to imports of rice from the United States for the first time ever in the run-up to talks between the two countries in January.

“With two trading sessions left before year end, the indices are likely to be supported by window dressing and technical factors,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

Cardillo expects another round of positive trading, which he says will be supported in part by the news that China is allowing U.S. rice imports ahead of the trade talks.

At 6:39 a.m. ET, S&P 500 e-minis were up 0.95 percent. Dow e-minis were up 0.92 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up or 0.81 percent.

Despite two days of gains, all three major indexes are still down more than 9 percent for December and remain on track for their biggest annual percentage drop since 2008.

Investors head into 2019 with a list of worries ranging from U.S.-China trade tensions, rising interest rates and a cooling economy to a partial U.S. government shutdown, which is now in its sixth day.

On the economic calendar, data from National Association of Realtors will likely show pending home sales edged higher to 560,000 million in November from 544,000 million the month before. The data is expected at 10:00 a.m. ET. (Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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