Stock futures trade higher to end the week

Traders will be watching for the latest existing home sales figures

U.S. equity futures suggested a higher open when the Friday session begins on Wall Street.

The major futures indexes look to add 0.2% at the opening bell.

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The big number to watch will be existing home sales for December. The National Association of Realtors was expected to say that sales of previously owned homes slipped 1.5% month-over-month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.61 million units, down from December’s stronger-than-expected reading of 6.76 million.

In Europe, London's FTSE is off 0.2%, Germany's DAX added 0.5% and France's CAC gained 0.5%.

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo sank 0.7%, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 0.2% and China's Shanghai Composite Index added 0.6%.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES31408.57+138.48+0.44%
SP500S&P 5003838.45+18.73+0.49%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX13044.096375+46.34+0.36%

On Thursday, the S&P 500 fell 0.4% for its third straight daily decline. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.4% to 31,493.34. The Nasdaq Composite tumbled 0.7%.

Stocks retreated after the U.S. government reported 861,000 people applied for unemployment benefits last week. Minutes of the Federal Reserve's latest meeting showed central bank officials believe the coronavirus pandemic still poses considerable risks to the economy.

ANOTHER 861,000 AMERICANS FILED FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS LAST WEEK

In Washington, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urged Congress to avoid cutting President Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion aid package. She said the economy is in “a deep hole” despite signs of improvement.

In stocks, Dow component Walmart Inc. reported mixed quarterly results and said it still planned to raise pay for an additional 425,000 workers to above the $15 per hour. The company said sales at U.S. stores were up 8.6% year over year, excluding fuel. Shares fell 6.5%.

GAMESTOP HEARING PUTS HEDGE FUNDS IN THE HOT SEAT

Shares of GameStop fell 11.4% Thursday. Congress conducted a hearing on the recent volatility of companies caught in a tug-of-war between Wall Street institutional investors betting against the companies and the online retail investors who pushed shares higher.

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In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.45 per barrel to $59.07 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 62 cents on Thursday to close at $60.52. Brent crude, used to price international oils, retreated $1.20 to $62.75 per barrel in London. It shed 41 cents the previous session to $63.93.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.