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

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Following the sell-off seen in the previous session, stocks are likely to regain some ground 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 109 points.

Early buying interest may be generated in reaction to a batch of largely upbeat U.S. economic data, including a report from the Commerce Department showing retail sales increased by much more than expected in the month of July.

The report said retail sales climbed by 0.7 percent in July after rising by a revised 0.3 percent in June. Economists had expected retail sales to rise by 0.3 percent compared to the 0.4 percent increase originally reported for the previous month.

Excluding a drop in auto sales, retail sales surged up by 1.0 percent in July following a revised 0.3 percent increase in June.

Ex-auto sales had been expected to climb by 0.4 percent, matching the growth originally reported for the previous month.

Adding to the positive sentiment about retail, Walmart (WMT) reported second quarter results that beat analyst estimates on both the top and bottom lines and raised its full-year guidance.

Separate reports from the New York and Philadelphia Federal Reserves also showed continued growth in regional manufacturing activity in August, although the pace of growth in the Philadelphia slowed from last month.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department released a report showing a bigger than expected increase in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended August 10th.

The report said initial jobless claims rose to 220,000, an increase of 9,000 from the previous week's revised level of 211,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to rise to 214,000.

Just before the open of trading on Wall Street, the Federal Reserve is scheduled to release its report on industrial production in the month of July. Industrial production is expected to edge up by 0.2 percent.

The data deluge also continues after the start of trading with the release of reports on homebuilder confidence in August and business inventories in June.

Following the rally seen in the previous session, stocks showed a substantial move back to the downside during trading on Wednesday. With the sharp pullback on the day, the Dow and the S&P 500 ended the session at their lowest closing levels in over two months.

The major averages finished the day just off their lows of the session. The Dow plummeted 800.49 points or 3.1 percent to 25,479.42, the Nasdaq plummeted 242.42 points or 3 percent to 7,773.94 and the S&P 500 tumbled 85.72 points or 2.9 percent to 2,840.60.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index slumped by 1.2 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index advanced by 0.8 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have all moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is down by 0.9 percent, the German DAX Index is down by 0.6 percent and the French CAC 40 Index is down by 0.2 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are slipping $0.36 to $54.87 a barrel after tumbling $1.87 to $55.23 a barrel on Wednesday. Meanwhile, an ounce of gold is trading at $1,521.70, down $6.10 compared to the previous session's close of $1,527.80. On Wednesday, gold surged up $13.70.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 106.21 yen compared to the 105.91 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Wednesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.1143 compared to yesterday's $1.1139.

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