Wall Street aimed to end 2016 on a positive note, setting up the Dow for its best annual performance since 2013 amid increasing optimism about the outlook for the economy.
The markets have shown surprising resilience to major political events, such as Britain's vote in June to leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president in November.
U.S. stocks, which had not priced in a Trump victory in the run-up to the vote, marked a series of record highs on bets that his policies would spur growth.
"The prospects of growth took center stage this year, with investors hoping that the new political phenomenon will spur the economy," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive officer at 50 Park Investments in Orlando, Florida.
"The fact that stocks are close to their highs of the year is going to set the stage for all of 2017."
Dow e-minis were up 43 points, or 0.22 percent at 8:22 a.m. ET (1329 GMT), with 16,163 contracts changing hands.
S&P 500 e-minis were up 5.75 points, or 0.26 percent, with 72,326 contracts traded.
Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 11.25 points, or 0.23 percent, on volume of 15,049 contracts.
This year also stands in stark contrast to 2015 when a steep drop in oil prices left the S&P 500 and the Dow nursing losses. The commodity bounced back by more than 50 percent for its best year since 2009, partly due to a deal by major producers to limit supply. [O/R]
The S&P energy index, which was the worst performer last year, is set to become the biggest gainer among the 10 other industry sectors in 2016.
Healthcare and the newly created real estate indexes are currently the only sectors in the red for the year.
Wall Street ended slightly lower on Thursday, stalling the post-election rally as bank stocks came under pressure.
The Dow is unlikely to make enough gains on the last day of the year to breach the 20,000 mark amid thin trading volumes and sparse data.
Cabela's shares fell 7.7 percent to $56.95 premarket after U.S. antitrust regulators requested additional information regarding Bass Pro Shops proposed acquisition of the hunting and fish gear retailer.
Mylan rose nearly 2 percent in light trading to $38.12 after the drug maker launched generic versions of two drugs.
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)