MARKET SNAPSHOT: Wall Street Stocks Aim For Modest Uptick As Oil Attempts To Rise

By Sara Sjolin and Mark DeCambre, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Jobless claims are little changed for the week at 245,000

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U.S. stocks were set for small gains at the open on Thursday, with oil prices hovering around 2 1/2 -year highs and giving a slight lift to energy-related shares.

What are stock futures doing?

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 43 points, or 0.2%, to 24,832, while those for the S&P 500 index added 2.60 points, or 0.1%, to 2,688. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 index climbed 15.75 points, or 0.2%, to 6,469.75.

The small gains come after all three benchmarks closed slightly higher (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/boeing-leads-dow-futures-higher-in-holiday-thinned-session-2017-12-27) in thin trade on Wednesday, with the Dow average ending 0.1% higher, the S&P 500 rising 0.1% and the Nasdaq Composite Index advancing 3.09 points, or less than 0.1%.

What's driving the markets?

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Oil prices on Thursday appeared to stabilize early Thursday, after retreating from 2 1/2 -year highs on Wednesday, helping to lift energy companies in premarket on Thursday. U.S. inventory data out late Wednesday showing a larger-than-expected drawdown (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/api-report-reveals-bigger-than-expected-drop-in-crude-oil-inventories-2017-12-27) in supply last week, helped to support slightly higher prices, with West Texas Intermediate crude little changed in recent trade to $59.64 a barrel on Thursday.

More broadly, trading volumes were thin, with investors likely to remain on vacation until after the New Year's holiday on Monday.

Last week, stocks rallied to records after the Republicans passed the most sweeping overhaul of the U.S. tax code in 30 years as well as a stopgap spending bill to keep the government funded into early 2018. That helped set the S&P on track for a 20% yearly gain, while the Dow and Nasdaq were looking at gains between 25% and 30%.

Which stocks are in focus?

Shares of Chesapeake Energy Corp.(CHK) climbed about 2%, as oil prices attempted to tick higher.

Tesla Inc.(TSLA) rose less than 0.1% ahead of the bell, after losing 1.8% on Wednesday when KeyBanc analysts slashed their fourth-quarter estimates for Model 3 deliveries to about 5,000 from 15,000 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tesla-shares-dip-after-keybanc-slashes-model-3-estimates-2017-12-27).

(http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tesla-shares-dip-after-keybanc-slashes-model-3-estimates-2017-12-27)What's on deck in economic data?

Investors are awaiting the purchasing managers index for Chicago due at 9:45 a.m. Eastern.

Initial U.S. jobless claims, a tool to measure layoffs, were unchanged (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/jobless-claims-stick-to-245000-in-week-before-christmas-2017-12-28)at 245,000 last week. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast claims to total 239,000.

Meanwhile, the U.S. deficit in goods increased 2.3% in November to $69.7 billion.

What are other markets doing?

Bitcoin prices plunged (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bitcoin-tumbles-almost-10-as-south-korea-moves-to-curb-crypto-trade-2017-12-28), with spot prices erasing more than $1,000 after South Korea announced tougher measures to crack down on cryptocurrencies trade.

The dollar dropped (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dollar-index-drops-to-multiweek-lows-after-us-bond-yields-tumble-2017-12-28) against most other major currencies, with the ICE index down 0.3% at 92.730. The broad-based dollar selloff came after U.S. Treasury yields tumbled on Wednesday.

Metals were mostly higher, with gold prices up 0.2% at $1,294.50 an ounce.

Asian stocks closed mostly higher (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tech-stocks-lead-recovery-in-asian-markets-2017-12-27), while European markets wavered around the flat line.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 28, 2017 08:46 ET (13:46 GMT)