By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch

U.S. stock futures pointed to a slightly higher start on Monday, with attention focused on a speech by Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen, as investors wait to see if markets can get back on track with one last winning week before Christmas.

Dow Jones Industrial Average index futures rose 36 points, or 0.2%, to 19,830, while S&P 500 index futures rose 3.95 points to 2,259.25. Nasdaq-100 futures gained 6 points to 4,921.75.

Last week, the Dow industrials closed up 0.4%, marking the longest weekly run of gains since November 2015. The S&P 500 index fell about 0.1%, along with the Nasdaq Composite Index . But overall, Friday marked a weaker session for stocks ( after reports a Chinese warship had seized an underwater U.S. Navy drove.

Beijing agreed over the weekend to return the drone, but analysts said the emerging diplomatic spat could cause some volatility for markets.

"While no one expects the USA and China to be best friends, moving away from the current status quo into a frosty relationship could provide an unwelcome backdrop for markets," said Rebecca O'Keefe, head of investment at stockbroker Interactive Investor, in a note to clients.

Read:Trump's Twitter slip declares China's drone seizure 'unprecedented' (

Some still believe the stock markets have moved too far too fast this year, and may not get a so-called Santa Claus rally ( in the last trading days of 2016. The Dow industrials has tried and failed in recent sessions to nail the psychologically important 20,000 level.

Distraction for investors could come in the form of a speech by Fed's Yellen, scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time at the University of Baltimore on "The State of the Labor Market." That should mark the last of the Fed speeches before the Christmas break.

On the data front, just the Markit services purchasing managers index for December is due at 10 a.m. Eastern Time.

Stocks to watch: Canada-based insurer Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd.(FFH.T) has agreed to acquire ( Swiss peer Allied World Assurance Co.(AWH) in a $4.9 billion cash-and-share deal.

Standard Industries Inc. on Sunday reached an agreement ( to buy German roof maker Braas Monier Building Group SA(BMSA.FF) .Standard is the U.S.-based owner of North America's biggest roof maker, GAF Materials Corp.

Walt Disney Co.(DIS) could be in focus after "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" hauled in an estimated $155 million ( in the U.S. and Canada at the box office over the weekend. The takings were the second biggest ever for a December opening.

Lennar Corp.(LEN) results are due ahead of the U.S. market's open.

Iran officials warned on Sunday that if U.S.-President-elect Donald Trump tries to scuttle the country's deal to buy 80 jets from Boeing Co ( it will take action to recover lost payments.

Other markets: Asian markets closed mostly lower, while European stocks pulled back from 2016 highs ( as banks took a breather from a recent rally.

Crude prices ( rose 23 cents to $52.15 a barrel, while gold for February added $3.50 to $1,139.80 an ounce.

The dollar ( pulled back against major rivals. Investors were cashing in on gains of about 1.2% last week that came on the heels of a U.S. interest-rate hike and the Fed lifting its projections to three from two rate increases in 2017.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 19, 2016 05:57 ET(10:57 GMT)

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