Stocks firm before holiday shopping

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Stock index futures are holding their ground today as investors look past uncertainty overseas and expect a strong start to the holiday shopping season. Oil is climbing as well.

The S&P 500 is little-changed, attempting to stay above its key 200-day moving average. It traded below that level for more than a week but rallied back Monday on hopes that the United States would avert fiscal crisis.

Now the market is looking forward to signs of strength in the economy. Initial jobless claims will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET, one day early because of Thanksgiving tomorrow. Then attention will focus to holiday shopping.

Most Asian markets were mostly positive in the overnight session, and European markets are treading water despite leaders on the continent failing to agree on a solution to Greece's sovereign-debt problems. Another meeting is scheduled for Monday.

Violence has also resumed in the Middle East, with a bomb injuring more than 20 people in Tel Aviv. The main impact on trading so far has been to push oil prices higher.

Crude is up by more than 1 percent. Gold and silver posted small gains, but copper is modestly lower. Agricultural foodstuffs are mixed.

Currencies are painting a modestly bearish picture, with the euro and Australian dollar both lower. Then Japanese yen, however, is plunging, which tends to support commodity prices and equities.

In company-specific news, tractor maker Deere is lower by about 2 percent after higher costs caused earnings to miss analyst forecasts. Book publisher Scholastic may also drop after lowering guidance yesterday afternoon.

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