MARKET SNAPSHOT: Dow Futures Struggle For Direction As Traders Break For Thanksgiving

By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

U.S. stock futures were struggling to make any headway on Thursday, as traders steered away from making any big trading bets and instead focused on Thanksgiving Day feasting.

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The global backdrop for equities was mostly weaker, with Chinese stocks dropping sharply and European stocks mostly sluggish.

What are the main benchmarks doing?

S&P 500 futures slipped 0.1 point to 2,594.25, while Dow Jones Industrial Average futures slipped 12 points, or less than 0.1%, to 23,474. Nasdaq-100 futures dipped by 0.75 point, or less than 0.1%, to 6,388.75.

On Wednesday, the S&P 500 and Dow posted modest declines (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/sp-eyes-another-record-but-meg-whitmans-farewell-could-prove-a-drag-2017-11-22), while the Nasdaq Composite inched up slightly to eke out another record. Stocks took a soft tone amid thin trading volumes, as the latest Federal Reserve minutes left the door open slightly (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fed-doubts-on-inflation-grow-but-rate-hike-likely-soon-minutes-show-2017-11-22) to keeping interest rates unchanged until the end of the year, as opposed to a hike in December.

The three equity benchmarks are up between 16% and 27% for the year as of Tuesday's close, gains having been driven by an expanding U.S. economy, low returns for bonds, rising corporate profits and bets that the administration of President Donald Trump will deliver tax cuts and other business-friendly policies.

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Goldman Sachs:'Rational exuberance' to drive stock market in 2018 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/goldman-rational-exuberance-to-drive-stock-market-in-2018-2017-11-21)

What strategists are saying

"Even with U.S. Treasuries rallying late in the U.S. day following a set of FOMC minutes that was viewed as slightly dovish and noncommittal even regarding next month's rate decision, the associated depreciation of the U.S. dollar helped to drive flat-to-slightly-softer equity markets across Asia," said Chris Scicluna of Daiwa Capital Markets in a note.

What could help drive markets?

U.S. financial markets will be completely shut on Thursday in observance of the Thanksgiving Day holiday, and trading closes early on Friday. Roughly half of normal trading volumes are expected on Friday.

Read:When do markets close for Thanksgiving? (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/when-do-markets-close-for-thanksgiving-2017-11-17)

And check out:6 things all investors should be thankful for (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/6-things-all-investors-should-be-thankful-for-2017-11-22)

Retailers could be in focus when investors return Friday on one of the biggest shopping days of the year -- Black Friday. Amazon.com Inc.(AMZN) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.(WMT) are among the companies expected to compete for buyers' attention with a wide range of deals.

Read:How Goldman Sachs says you should play retail stocks ahead of Black Friday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-how-tied-retail-stocks-are-to-black-friday-and-holiday-shopping-2017-11-16)

(http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-how-tied-retail-stocks-are-to-black-friday-and-holiday-shopping-2017-11-16)Opinion:Investors can feel safe ignoring the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping reports (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/black-friday-shopping-wont-signal-the-stock-markets-december-path-2017-11-22)

What are other assets doing?

European stocks were mostly lower, while Asian markets logged losses (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tech-stocks-lead-broad-gains-by-asian-markets-2017-11-20).

The Shanghai Composite slumped 2.3% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/chinese-stocks-fall-other-asian-markets-mostly-quiet-2017-11-22) amid concerns about regulatory moves in China to tighten up financial conditions. It marked the first time since Aug. 25 that the index finished with a drop or gain of at least 1%.

Oil futures pulled back, but stayed near their highest level (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-hovers-near-highest-levels-since-2015-as-supply-data-spreads-cheer-2017-11-23) since June 2015. They rose Wednesday after the release of data that showed a drop in U.S. crude supplies (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-hovers-near-highest-levels-since-2015-as-supply-data-spreads-cheer-2017-11-23). The ICE U.S. Dollar Index was largely flat, while gold futures dipped.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 23, 2017 05:08 ET (10:08 GMT)