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Futures Pointing To Choppy Trading On Wall Street

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Stocks may continue to experience choppy trading on Friday, extending the lackluster performance seen in the previous session. The major index futures are currently pointing to a mixed open for the markets, with the Dow futures down by 73 points but the Nasdaq futures up by 27 points.

Traders may remain reluctant to make significant moves amid recent uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets.

The S&P 500 once again failed to reach a new record high during trading on Thursday, raising concerns recent upward momentum on Wall Street may have reached its limit.

With earnings season largely in the rear-view mirror and talks about a new coronavirus relief bill at a stalemate, traders may be unsure about the next catalyst to drive the markets.

Some negative sentiment may be generated by a report from the Commerce Department showing retail sales jumped by less than expected in July, although the weaker than expected was primarily due to a pullback in auto sales.

The Commerce Department said retail sales advanced by 1.2 percent in July after soaring by an upwardly revised 8.4 percent in June.

Economists had expected retail sales to jump by 1.9 percent compared to the 7.5 percent spike originally reported for the previous month.

Excluding sales by motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales surged up by 1.9 percent in July after skyrocketing by 8.3 percent in June. Ex-auto sales were expected to increase by 1.3 percent.

Just before the start of trading, the Federal Reserve is scheduled to release its report on industrial production in the month of July. Production is expected to jump by 3.0 percent in July after spiking by 5.4 percent in June.

The University Of Michigan is also due to release its preliminary reading on consumer sentiment in the month of August shortly after the open. The consumer sentiment index is expected to edge down to 72.0 in August from 72.5 in July.

Following the rally seen over the course of the trading day on Wednesday, stocks turned in a relatively lackluster performance during trading on Thursday. The Dow and the S&P 500 spent much of the day lingering near the unchanged line before closing modestly lower.

The Dow dipped 80.12 points or 0.3 percent to 27,896.72 and the S&P 500 edged down 6.92 points or 0.2 percent to 3,373.43. Meanwhile, the tech-heavy Nasdaq pulled back off its best levels but still closed up 30.27 points or 0.3 percent at 11,042.50.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in another mixed performance during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index crept up by 0.2 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index edged down by 0.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have all shown notable moves to the downside on the day. While the German DAX Index has slumped by 0.9 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index are down by 1.5 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are slipping $0.08 to $42.16 a barrel after falling $0.43 to $42.24 a barrel on Thursday. Meanwhile, after spiking $21.40 to $1,970.40 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are tumbling $14.60 to $1,955.80 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 106.58 yen versus the 106.93 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Thursday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.1822 compared to yesterday's $1.1814.

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