Futures held their modest gains Thursday even after a slight increase in weekly unemployment benefits and mixed results from the Italian bond auction.
New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits rose 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 381,000, according to the Labor Department, but remained under the key 400,000 level for the fourth straight time. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 375,000.
With only two full trading sessions left in the year, trading volume is expected to remain light throughout the shortened holiday week as most investors are unlikely to make large bets until after the New Year. Major averages have also been struggling to finish the year in positive territory. Of the three major averages, the Dow is the only index in the black for the year.
Paul Hickey from Bespoke noted that the second to last day of the year finishes higher 68 percent of the time, while the last day is positive only 32 percent of the time.
In Europe, Italy sold just over 7 billion euros ($9 billion) in an auction of longer-term debt, with yields falling.
The yield on Italian 10-year bonds fell from the euro era highs reached in November, settling slightly below the market-sensitive level of 7 percent in an auction on Thursday.Page 1 of 3 | Next Page