Thursday December 22nd


US stock futures hold mostly flat after economic data deluge

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a flat open on Thursday as traders digested the release of a big batch of data. Initial jobless claims jumped to 275,000 last week, with economists polled by Reuters expecting them to total 256,000. Meanwhile, the final read on third-quarter U.S. GDP came in at 3.5 percent, above the expected 3.2 percent. Durable goods orders for November fell 4.6 percent last month, less than expected. Personal income, consumer spending, PCE (Personal Consumption Expenditures) prices and leading indicators are all due at 10:00 a.m. Stocks closed slightly lower on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones industrial average failing to break above the elusive 20,000 mark. In oil markets, Brent crude was around $54.34 a barrel on Thursday, down 0.22 percent, while U.S. crude was at $52.35 a barrel, down 0.27 percent. In Europe, the pan-European Stoxx-600 index was around 0.1 percent lower on Thursday. Asian shares lost ground on Thursday amid thinner pre-holiday trade, after the Dow failed to reach the 20,000 mark overnight. Japanese benchmark Nikkei 225 closed down 0.09 percent or 16.82 points at 19,427.67, while in South Korea, the Kospi ended down 0.11 percent or 2.23 points at 2,035.73. Chinese shares were mixed: the Shanghai composite closed up 0.09 percent or 2.73 points at 3,140.15 while the Shenzhen composite ended 0.133 percent or 2.66 points at 1,993.37. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng was down 0.82 percent by 3 pm local time. Gold prices fell on Thursday, as the dollar slipped and new U.S. economic data was released. Spot gold fell 0.28 percent at $1,128.28 an ounce, while U.S. gold futures were down 0.35 percent at $1,129.50 an ounce