Stock futures rise ahead of Christmas holiday

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U.S. equity futures are pointing to gains as traders prepare for the final trading day before Christmas.

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The major futures indexes suggest a rise of 0.2% when Wall Street begins the day.

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It will be an abbreviated session with equity trading ending at 1:00 PM eastern time.

On Wednesday, the S&P 500 inched up 0.1% to 3,690.01. The benchmark index set a record high on Thursday and is up 14.2% so far this year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.4% to 30,129.83. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.3%, to 12,771.11.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES30129.83+114.32+0.38%
SP500S&P 5003690.01+2.75+0.07%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX12771.114183-36.80-0.29%
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Gains by financial, communication services, energy and other sectors were kept in check by declines elsewhere, including technology companies, which helped pulled the Nasdaq slightly lower.

Markets in the UK and France will have shortened sessions. German markets were closed.

In Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index gained 0.5% on Thursday and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong edged 0.2% higher.

CHINA STEPS UP PRESSURE ON ALIBABA WITH ANTI-MONOPOLY PROBE

The Shanghai Composite index lost 0.6% after China’s market regulator said it has launched an anti-monopoly investigation of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, stepping up official efforts to tighten control over the country’s fast-growing tech industries.

Alibaba Group Holding's share price plunged 8.1% in Hong Kong. JD.com fell 2.3% and Tencent sank 2.6%.

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In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude slipped 13 cents to $48.00 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained $1.10 to $48.12 on Wednesday. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 11 cents to $51.06 per barrel.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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