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Futures higher before shortened session

David Russell (david.russell@optionmonster.com)

U.S. stock futures are climbing modestly ahead of today's shortened trading session.

The S&P 500 is indicated to open higher by about two tenths of one percent after being closed yesterday for Thanksgiving. European markets are up slightly and have improved as the morning progresses, while Asian markets posted more significant gains.

Equities have been attempting to bounce in the last week after falling sharply over the preceding month. On one hand, investors have been worried about the specter of higher taxes and lower government spending in the United States, plus continued debt problems in Europe. But on the other, sentiment has been supported by improving economic data.

China's purchasing managers index, for example, signaled expansion for the first time in more than a year. Germany's IFO survey of investor confidence also rose to 101.4, while forecasters had expected a drop to 99.5. No important economic data will be released in the United States today and attention will focus on the holiday shopping season. Stock trading will close three hours early at 1 p.m. ET and volumes are likely to be thin after the holiday.

Commodities and currencies are little changed. The euro, Australian dollar and Canadian dollar, which often move in tandem with equities, are modestly higher. But the Japanese yen is stronger across the board, which is more consistent with risk aversion.

Oil and copper are also posting very small declines, while gold and silver are fractionally higher. The range of movement is small enough that direction could easily change when trading begins.

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