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Stocks May Open Higher Amid Optimism About Tax Reform - U.S. Commentary


Following the mixed performance seen in the previous session, stocks may move mostly higher in early trading on Thursday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a higher open for the markets, with the Dow futures up by 99 percent.

Early buying interest may be generated amid optimism about the outlook for tax reform after Senate Republicans cleared a key procedural hurdle.

The Senate voted 52 to 48 along party lines to begin formal debate on the GOP tax reform bill after negotiations convinced Republican holdouts to vote for the legislation.

The approval of the procedural motion sets the stage for a final Senate vote on the tax reform bill later this week, although some issues still need to be resolved.

On the U.S. economic front, a report released by the Labor Department showed a modest decrease in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended November 25th.

The report said initial jobless claims edged down to 238,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's revised level of 240,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 240,000 from the 239,000 originally reported for the previous week.

A separate report from the Commerce Department showed personal income increased by slightly more than expected in October, while personal spending rose in line with estimates.

The report said personal income climbed by 0.4 percent in October, matching the increase seen in September. Economists had expected income to rise by 0.3 percent.

The Commerce Department also said personal spending rose by 0.3 percent in October after climbing by a downwardly revised 0.9 percent in September.

Economists had expected spending to rise by 0.3 percent compared to the 1.0 percent jump originally reported for the previous month.

Shortly after the start of trading, MNI Indicators is scheduled to release its report on Chicago-area business activity in the month of November.

The Chicago business barometer is expected to drop to 63.0 in November from 66.2 in October, although a reading above 50 would still indicate growth.

Stocks turned in a mixed performance during trading on Wednesday following the broad based rally seen in the previous session. While the Dow climbed to a new record closing high, the tech-heavy Nasdaq showed a sharp move to the downside.

The major averages ended the day on opposite sides of the unchanged line. The Dow climbed 103.97 points or 0.4 percent to 23,940.68, the Nasdaq plunged 88.02 points or 1.3 percent to 6,824.34 and the S&P 500 edged down 0.97 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 2,626.07.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower on Thursday. China's Shanghai Composite Index fell by 0.6 percent, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slumped by 1.5 percent. However, Japan's Nikkei 225 Index bucked the downtrend and advanced by 0.6 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets are turning in another mixed performance. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index has dipped by 0.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.3 percent and the German DAX Index is up by 0.6 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are climbing $0.49 to $57.79 a barrel after falling $0.69 to $57.30 a barrel on Wednesday. An ounce of gold is trading at $1,280.10, down $6.10 compared to the previous session's close of $1,286.20. On Wednesday, gold slumped $13.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 112.31 yen compared to the 111.93 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Wednesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.1855 compared to yesterday's $1.1863.

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