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Futures Pointing To Mixed Open On Wall Street - U.S. Commentary


After the lackluster performance seen in the previous session, stocks may continue to show a lack of direction in early trading on Thursday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a mixed open for the markets, with the Dow futures down by 69 points but the Nasdaq futures up by 12.50 points.

Traders may remain reluctant to make significant news amid lingering uncertainty about the final Republican tax reform bill.

The Senate voted 51 to 47 on Wednesday in favor of a motion to go to a conference committee with the House. The vote came down strictly along party lines.

Senate and House lawmakers will need to reach an agreement addressing significant differences between their two bills.

Traders are likely to pay close attention to how the final bill deals with the corporate alternative minimum tax, which the House bill eliminates but the Senate bill maintains.

In economic news, the Labor Department released a report unexpectedly showing a modest decrease in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended December 2nd.

The report said initial jobless claims edged down to 236,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 238,000. The drop surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to inch up to 240,000.

Later in the day, the Federal Reserve is due to release its report on consumer credit in the month of October. Consumer credit is expected to increase by $17.5 billion.

Following the weakness seen on Tuesday, stocks turned in a lackluster performance during trading on Wednesday. The major averages spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.

The major averages ended the day on opposite sides of the unchanged line. While the Nasdaq rose 14.16 points or 0.2 percent to 6,776.38, the Dow dipped 39.73 points or 0.2 percent to 24,140.91 and the S&P 500 edged down 0.30 point or less than a tenth of a percent to 2,629.27.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index surged up by 1.5 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index climbed by 0.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets are turning in a lackluster performance on the day. While the German DAX Index is just above the unchanged line, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index are both down by 0.1 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are rising $0.18 to $56.14 a barrel after tumbling $1.66 to $55.96 a barrel on Wednesday. An ounce of gold is trading at $1,257.30, down $8.80 compared to the previous session's close of $1,266.10. On Wednesday, gold inched up $1.20.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 112.71 yen compared to the 112.29 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Wednesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.1789 compared to yesterday's $1.1796.

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