Futures Pointing To Roughly Flat Open On Wall Street

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Following the sell-off seen in the previous session, stocks may show a lack of direction in early trading on Tuesday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a roughly flat open for the markets, with the S&P 500 futures up by less than a tenth of a percent.

Traders may be reluctant to make significant moves amid lingering uncertainty about the outlook for interest rates ahead of next week's Federal Reserve meeting.

A relatively quiet day on the U.S. economic front may keep traders on the sidelines ahead of Friday's report on producer price inflation.

The University of Michigan is also due to release its preliminary report on consumer sentiment in the month of December on Friday. The report includes readings on inflation expectations that could impact the outlook for interest rates.

While the Fed is widely expected to slow the pace of interest rate hikes next week, recent upbeat economic data has raised concerns about how much further the central bank will raise rates at future meetings.

Traders are likely to pay close attention to the Fed's accompanying statement, although a lot of key data will be released before the next meeting in late January/early February.

In U.S. economic news, the Commerce Department released a report showing the U.S. trade deficit widened in the month of October.

The report said the trade deficit widened to $78.2 billion in October from a revised $74.1 billion in September. Economists had expected the trade deficit to increase to $79.1 billion from the $73.3 billion originally reported for the previous month.

The wider trade deficit came as the value of exports slid by 0.7 percent to $256.6 billion, while the value of imports climbed by 0.6 percent to $334.8 billion.

After ending last Friday's trading narrowly mixed, stocks moved sharply lower over the course of the session on Monday. The major averages came under pressure in early trading and saw further downside as the day progressed.

The major averages climbed off their worst levels going into the close but remained firmly negative. The Dow slumped 482.78 points or 1.4 percent to 33,947.10, the Nasdaq dove 221.56 points or 1.9 percent to 11,239.94 and the S&P 500 tumbled 72.86 points or 1.8 percent to 3,998.84.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Tuesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index edged up by 0.2 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell by 0.4 percent.

Meanwhile, European stocks have moved modestly lower on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is down by 0.4 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index are both down by 0.2 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are slumping $1.09 to $75.84 a barrel after plunging $3.05 to $76.93 a barrel on Monday. Meanwhile, after tumbling $28.30 to $1,781.30 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are climbing $10.10 to $1,791.40 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 136.24 yen compared to the 136.75 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Monday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.0509 compared to yesterday's $1.0491.

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