MARKET SNAPSHOT: U.S. Stocks Seen In Holding Pattern As Investors Look For Fresh Catalysts After Tax Bill

By FeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Weekly jobless claims, GDP revision ahead

U.S. stocks were set for another apathetic day of trade, with futures struggling for direction on Thursday as traders looked for fresh catalysts after the tax bill was approved.

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Several economic indicators ahead, including weekly jobless claims and a revision to growth domestic product, could provide some inspiration for investors later.

What are indexes doing?

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 16 points at 24,755, while those for the S&P 500 index gained 3.4 points to 2,685. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 index dropped 2.75 points to 6,486.20.

The muted action mirrors the mood from Wednesday, when the S&P 500 and Dow average both ended 0.1% lower and the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.04%.

The three benchmarks on Monday closed at all-time highs on signs the highly anticipated tax reform would get approved before Christmas.

What's driving the market?

The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the tax bill, which they voted on for the second time due to a technical irregularity before. The Senate approved the reform in the early hours of Wednesday, so all there's left now is for President Donald Trump to sign the bill into law.

Read:Tax cuts may deliver caffeine rush to economy, but jolt of adrenaline might not last long (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tax-cuts-may-deliver-caffeine-rush-to-economy-but-jolt-of-adrenaline-might-not-last-long-2017-12-20)

Among the bill's many features, it includes a reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, which is expected to give U.S. companies a boost and speed up economic growth.

Read: 10 things you need to know about the new tax law (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/10-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-new-tax-law-2017-12-20)

What are strategists saying?

"U.S. equities have been driving higher throughout 2017 as the prospect of substantial tax cuts was fueling investor sentiment. The cooling of the U.S. stock market when the vote on the tax cuts was passed suggests that traders are 'buying the rumor and selling the fact'," said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, in a note.

"If a major amount of money was already poured into equities in hope the tax cuts would stimulate the economy, some traders may start to wonder how much higher can they go," he added.

What's on the economic docket?

Weekly jobless claims are due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, with economists polled by MarketWatch forecasting 230,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week. That would be up from 225,000 in the week before.

Also at 8:30 a.m. Eastern, revised GDP data for the third quarter come out, along with the Chicago Fed national activity index for November and the Philly Fed manufacturing index for December.

A report on leading indicators for November is slated for release at 10 a.m. Eastern.

See:MarketWatch's economic calendar (http://www.marketwatch.com/economy-politics/calendars/economic)

Which stocks are in focus?

CarMax Inc.(KMX) , Conagra Brands Inc.(CAG) and Paychex Inc.(PAYX) are slated to report earnings ahead of the bell. After the market closes, results from Nike Inc.(NKE) are on deck.

Read:Nike earnings: North America business may be starting to gain speed (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/nike-earnings-north-america-business-starting-to-just-do-it-again-2017-12-19)

Apple Inc.(AAPL) shares were down 0.3%. The tech giant on Wednesday admitted it slows down older iPhones (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/apple-admits-slowing-down-older-iphones-to-prevent-unexpected-shutdowns-2017-12-20) to prevent unexpected shutdowns.

Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (AEZS.T) soared 89% ahead of the bell after the biotech firm late Wednesday said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had approved the company's Macrilen product for diagnosis of adult growth hormone deficiency.

What are other markets doing?

Asian stocks closed mixed, while European stocks (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-drop-as-us-tax-optimism-fades-2017-12-21) mostly traded lower (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-drop-as-us-tax-optimism-fades-2017-12-21).

Oil and gold were also in the red, while the dollar index was flat around 93.307.

Bitcoin futures on the CME were down 2.4% at $16,625.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 21, 2017 06:01 ET (11:01 GMT)