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Stocks May Show A Lack Of Direction In Early Trading - U.S. Commentary

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Following the strong upward move seen last week, stocks may show a lack of direction in early trading on Monday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a roughly flat open for the markets, with the Dow futures down by just 9 points.

Traders may be reluctant to make significant moves after the recent strength on Wall Street lifted the major averages to their best levels in nearly two months.

Uncertainty about trade talks between the U.S. and China may keep some traders on the sidelines along with the potential for another government shutdown amid an ongoing impasse over President Donald Trump's border wall.

The economic calendar for the week is also relatively light, although traders are likely to keep an eye on reports on service sector activity, international trade, and labor productivity and costs.

Shortly after the start of trading, the Commerce Department is scheduled to release its report on factory orders in the month of November. Factory orders are expected to rise by 0.2 percent in November after tumbling by 2.1 percent in October.

Traders may also look ahead to this week's batch of earnings news, including the release of Google parent Alphabet's (GOOGL) fourth quarter results after the close of today's trading.

Stocks fluctuated over the course of the trading session on Friday before eventually ending the day mixed. Despite the choppy trading, the Dow and the S&P 500 reached their best closing levels in nearly two months.

The major averages finished the session on opposite sides of the unchanged line. While the Nasdaq fell 17.87 points or 0.3 percent to 7,263.87, the Dow rose 64.22 points or 0.3 percent to 25,063.89 and the S&P 500 inched up 2.43 points or 0.1 percent to 2,706.53.

Despite the mixed performance on the day, the major averages all moved sharply higher for the week. The Dow jumped by 1.3 percent, while the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 surged up by 1.4 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Monday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index climbed by 0.5 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index edged up by 0.2 percent.

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

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are sliding $0.53 to $54.73 a barrel after jumping $1.47 to $55.26 a barrel last Friday. Meanwhile, an ounce of gold is trading at $1,316.40, down $5.70 from the previous session's close of $1,322.10. On Friday, gold fell $3.10.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 109.96 yen compared to the 109.50 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Friday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.1449 compared to last Friday's $1.1456.

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