Stocks started their final 2008 session with tepid optimism, sending the Dow up 28 points, and the Nasdaq and S&P up 0.3% and 0.2% respectively. Fueling the optimism was a stronger-than-expected employment report, which showed new jobless claims dropping by 94,000 last week. Keep an eye on Dell today, which announced management changes, and on oil, which reversed recent gains and fell below $37 a barrel.
Investors are eager to put a disastrous 2008 behind them. The Dow lost 35% this year, the S&P 40% and the Nasdaq 42%. (Read more stock market stories.)