Stocks May Show A Lack Of Direction Following Recent Volatility

(RTTNews) - Following yesterday's sell-off after the Federal Reserve announcement, stocks may show a lack of direction in early trading on Thursday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a roughly flat open for the markets, with the Dow futures down by just 11 points.

Traders may be reluctant to make significant moves on the heels of recent volatility on Wall Street, which has seen the major averages tumble to their lowest levels in over a year.

Some investors could look to pick up stocks at reduced levels, although recent efforts to push the markets higher have been thwarted by concerns about the outlook for global economic growth.

Worries the Federal Reserve plans to continue raising interest rates despite signs of slowing growth is likely to keep any buying interest subdued.

On the U.S. economic front, the Labor Department released a report showing initial jobless claims rebounded in the week ended December 15th.

The report said initial jobless claims rose to 214,000, an increase of 8,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 206,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to climb to 216,000.

A separate report from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve said manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region continued to grow but remained subdued in the month of December.

The report said the diffusion index for current general activity dropped to 9.4 in December after tumbling to 12.9 in November.

While a positive reading still indicates growth in regional manufacturing activity, economists had expected the index to rise to 15.0.

Not long after the start of trading, the Conference Board is scheduled to release its report on leading economic indicators in the month of November.

The Conference Board's leading economic index is expected to come in unchanged in November after inching up by 0.1 percent in October.

Stocks saw typically post-Federal Reserve decision volatility in afternoon trading on Wednesday before ending the session sharply lower. With the steep drop late in the day, the major averages finished the session at their lowest closing levels in over a year.

The major averages climbed off their lows of the session going into the close but remained firmly negative. The Dow tumbled 351.98 points or 1.5 percent to 23,323.66, the Nasdaq plummeted 147.08 points or 2.2 percent to 6,636.83 and the S&P 500 slumped 39.20 points or 1.5 percent to 2,506.96.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index plunged by 2.8 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dropped by 0.9 percent.

The major European markets have also moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index has dipped by 0.3 percent, the German DAX Index is down by 1.2 percent and the French CAC 40 Index is down by 1.7 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are tumbling $1.33 to $46.84 a barrel after climbing $0.96 to $47.20 a barrel on Wednesday. Meanwhile, an ounce of gold is trading at $1,260, up $3.60 compared to the previous session's close of $1,256.40. On Wednesday, gold rose $2.80.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 111.59 yen compared to the 112.48 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Wednesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.1458 compared to yesterday's $1.1376.

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