U.S. Stocks May Lack Direction To Start Holiday-Shortened Week

Stocks may show a lack of direction in early trading on Monday, extending the lackluster performance seen over the two previous sessions. The major index futures are currently pointing to a slightly lower open for the markets, with the S&P 500 futures down by 0.1 percent.

The Thanksgiving Day holiday on Thursday may lead to relatively light trading activity throughout the week, as the markets are also set for a shortened session on Friday.

Traders may also be reluctant to make significant moves ahead of the release of the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s latest monetary policy meeting on Tuesday.

The minutes may shed additional light on the outlook for interest rates, with the Fed widely expected to leave rates unchanged at upcoming meetings.

Reports on durable goods orders, existing home sales and weekly jobless claims may also attract attention in the coming days.

Shortly after the start of trading, the Conference Board is scheduled to release its report on leading economic indicators in the month of October. The leading economic index is expected to decrease by 0.6 percent in October after falling by 0.7 percent in September.

Following the lackluster performance seen during Thursday’s session, stocks continued to experience choppy trading on Friday. The major averages spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line before closing slightly higher.

The S&P 500 edged up 5.78 points or 0.1 percent to 4,514.02, the Nasdaq inched up 11.81 points or 0.1 percent to 14,125.48 and the Dow crept up 1.81 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 34,947.28.

Despite the lackluster performance, the tech-heavy Nasdaq reached its best closing level in well over three months and the S&P 500 reached its best closing level in well over two months.

Reflecting strong gains earlier in the week, the Nasdaq surged by 2.4 percent for the week, while the S&P 500 and the Dow jumped by 2.2 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher on Monday. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index shot up by 1.9 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose by 0.5 percent, although Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index bucked the uptrend and fell by 0.6 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets are turning in a mixed performance on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.2 percent, the German DAX Index and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index are both down by 0.3 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are jumping $1.52 to $77.41 a barrel after surging $2.99 to $75.89 a barrel last Friday. Meanwhile, after slipping $2.60 to $1,984.70 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are falling $10.70 to $1,974 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 148.45 yen versus the 149.63 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Friday. Against the euro, the dollar is trading at $1.0926 compared to last Friday’s $1.0915.

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