U.S. Stocks May Regain Ground In Early Trading

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After moving sharply lower over the course of the previous session, stocks may move back to the upside in early trading on Thursday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a higher open for the markets, with the S&P 500 futures up by 0.5 percent.

Traders may look to pick up stocks at reduced levels following the steep drop seen on Wednesday, which dragged the tech-heavy Nasdaq down to its lowest closing level in over two years.

Overall trading activity is likely to remain below average, however, as many traders remain away from their desks due to the holidays.

Following the long Christmas weekend, the markets are set for another break this weekend due to New Year's Day.

In U.S. economic news, the Labor Department released a report showing first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits rose by slightly more than expected in the week ended December 24th.

The report said initial jobless claims crept up to 225,000, an increase of 9,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 216,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 222,000.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average edged down to 221,000, a decrease of 250 from the previous week's revised average of 221,250.

Stocks showed a lack of direction in early trading on Wednesday but moved sharply lower over the course of the session. With the steep drop on the day, the tech-heavy Nasdaq ended the session at its lowest closing level in over two years.

The major averages finished the session just off their worst levels of the day. While the Nasdaq plunged 139.94 points or 1.4 percent to 10,213.29, the S&P 500 dove 46.03 points or 1.2 percent to 3,783.22 and the Dow tumbled 365.85 points or 1.1 percent to 32,875.71.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index slumped by 0.9 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index fell by 0.4 percent.

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

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are slumping $0.87 to $78.09 a barrel after sliding $0.57 to $78.96 a barrel on Wednesday. Meanwhile, after falling $7.30 to $1,815.80 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are edging down $0.70 to $1,815.10 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 133.35 yen versus the 134.47 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Wednesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.0653 compared to yesterday's $1.0612.

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