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Stocks May Regain Ground After Yesterday's Sell-Off - U.S. Commentary

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Stocks may move back to the upside in early trading on Friday following the sell-off seen in the previous session. The major index futures are currently pointing to a modestly higher open for the markets, with the Dow futures up by 13 points.

Bargain hunting may contribute to early strength on Wall Street after the steep losses seen in the previous session dragged the major averages down to their lowest levels in about two months.

Traders may also react positively to news that lawmakers managed to end a brief government shutdown with a bill raising spending caps and funding the government until March 23rd.

Buying interest may be somewhat subdued, however, as traders continue to express concerns about the outlook for interest rates.

Recent signs of rising inflation have led to worries that the Federal Reserve may raise rates faster than currently anticipated.

A relatively quiet day on the U.S. economic front may also keep some traders on the sidelines, leading to choppy trading.

The Commerce Department is due to release its report on wholesale inventories in the month of December, although the data does not typically impact the markets.

Following the lackluster performance seen in the previous session, stocks saw substantial weakness during trading on Thursday. With the sell-off, the major averages fell to their lowest closing levels in about two months.

The major averages finished the day at their lows of the session. The Dow plummeted 1,032.89 points or 4.2 percent to 23,860.46, the Nasdaq plunged 274.83 points or 3.9 percent to 6,777.16 and the S&P 500 dove 100.66 points or 3.8 percent to 2,581.00.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region followed Wall Street sharply lower on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index tumbled by 2.3 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index crashed by 3.1 percent.

The major European markets have also moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is down by 0.9 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index are both down by 1.5 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are slumping $0.86 to $60.29 a barrel after sliding $0.64 to $61.15 a barrel on Thursday. Meanwhile, after climbing $4.40 to $1,319 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are edging down $0.30 to $1,318.70 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 108.88 yen compared to the 108.74 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Thursday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.2271 compared to yesterday's $1.2247.

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