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Fiscal Cliff Uncertainty May Lead To Flat Open On Wall Street - U.S. Commentary


After moving mostly lower over the course of the previous session, stocks may show a lack of direction in early trading on Friday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a mixed open for the markets. While the Dow futures are up by 13 points, the Nasdaq futures are down by about 6 points.

Continued uncertainty about the looming fiscal cliff may contribute to choppy trading on Wall Street, overshadowing an upbeat report on Chinese manufacturing activity.

President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met at the White House yesterday evening, although it is unclear if the two men were able to make any progress on narrowing the gap between their opposing budget proposals.

With the focus on Washington, traders have largely shrugged off a report from the Labor Department showing a bigger than expected drop in U.S. consumer prices in the month of November.

The Labor Department said its consumer price index fell by 0.3 percent in November following a 0.1 percent increase in October. Economists had been expecting prices to edge down by 0.2 percent.

Excluding a steep drop in energy prices as well as a modest increase in food prices, the core consumer price index inched up 0.1 percent in November after rising by 0.2 percent in October. Core prices had been expected to increase by 0.2 percent.

Not long before the start of trading, the Federal Reserve is due to release a separate report on industrial production in the month of November. Economists expect production to increase by about 0.3 percent after falling by 0.4 percent in the previous month.

With lingering concerns about the fiscal cliff overshadowing a batch of largely upbeat economic data, stocks came under pressure during trading on Thursday. Traders may also have been cashing in on the recent upward trend by the markets.

The major averages ended the session well off their worst levels of the day but still closed firmly in the red. The Dow fell 74.73 points or 0.6 percent to 13,170.72, the Nasdaq slid 21.65 points or 0.7 percent to 2,992.16 and the S&P 500 dropped 9.03 points or 0.6 percent to 1,419.45.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in another mixed performance during trading on Friday. While Japan's Nikkei 225 Index edged down by 0.1 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index advanced by 0.7 percent.

The major European markets have also turned mixed on the day. The German DAX Index is just above the unchanged line, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index are both down by 0.2 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are climbing $0.45 to $86.34 a barrel after falling $0.88 to $85.89 a barrel on Thursday. Meanwhile, gold futures are slipping $0.80 to $1,696.30 an ounce. In the previous session, gold retreated $21.10 to $1,696.80 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 83.51 yen compared to the 83.65 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Thursday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.3073 compared to yesterday's $1.3077.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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