Stocks May Add To Yesterday’s Modest Gains In Early Trading

Stocks may move to the upside in early trading on Thursday, adding to the slim gains posted in the previous session. The major index futures are currently pointing to a higher open for the markets, with the Dow futures up by 41 points.

So-called window dressing may contribute to early strength on Wall Street, as investors look to polish their portfolios going into the end of the year.

Nonetheless, many traders are likely to remain away from their desks ahead of the New Year’s weekend, leading to another light trading day.

On the U.S. economic front, the Labor Department released a report showing first-time claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly came in unchanged in the week ended December 23rd.

The report said initial jobless claims came in at 245,000, unchanged from the previous week’s unrevised level. Economists had expected jobless claims to dip to 240,000.

After ending Tuesday’s session modestly lower, stocks turned in another lackluster performance during trading on Wednesday. The major averages fluctuated over the course of the trading session before closing slightly higher.

The major averages closed in positive territory but off their best levels of the day. The Dow ticked up 28.09 points or 0.1 percent to 24,774.30, the Nasdaq inched up 3.09 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 6,939.34 and the S&P 500 edged up 2.12 points or 0.1 percent to 2,682.62.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher on Thursday. China’s Shanghai Composite Index climbed by 0.7 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index advanced by 0.9 percent. However, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index bucked the uptrend and fell by 0.6 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets are turning in another mixed performance on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index has inched up by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index are both down by 0.2 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are sliding $0.42 to $59.55 a barrel…

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