Market Snapshot: Wall Street stocks aim for modest uptick as oil attempts to rise

U.S. stocks were set for small gains at the open on Thursday, with energy stocks driving the charge north as oil prices hovered around 2 ½-year highs.

Later in the session, attention turns to a trio of data releases, including weekly jobless claims.

What are stock futures doing?

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average YMH8, +0.16%  rose 34 points, or 0.1%, to 24,822, while those for the S&P 500 index ESH8, +0.09%  added 2.10 points, or 0.1%, to 2,687.50. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 index NQH8, +0.27%  climbed 12.75 points, or 0.2%, to 6,466.75.

The small gains come after all three benchmarks closed slightly higher in thin trade on Wednesday, with the Dow average DJIA, +0.11%  ending 0.1% higher, the S&P 500 SPX, +0.08%  rising 0.1% and the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.04%  advancing 3.09 points, or less than 0.1%.

What’s driving the markets?

Rising oil prices helped lift energy companies premarket on Thursday, after U.S. inventory data out late Wednesday showed an unexpectedly large draw down in supply last week. That helped to lift West Texas Intermediate crude CLG8, +0.07%  0.2% to $59.75 a barrel on Thursday, trading around its highest level since June 2015.

More broadly, trading volumes were thin, with investors likely to remain on vacation until after the New Year’s holiday on Monday.

Last week, stocks rallied to records after the Republicans passed the most sweeping overhaul of the U.S. tax code in 30 years as well as a stopgap spending bill to keep the government funded into early 2018. That helped set the S&P on track for a 20% yearly gain, while the Dow and Nasdaq were looking at gains between 25% and 30%.

Which stocks are in focus?

Shares of Chesapeake Energy Corp. CHK, -3.00%  climbed 2%, as oil prices attempted to tick higher.

Tesla Inc. TSLA, -1.78%  fell 0.1% ahead of the bell, after losing 1.8% on Wednesday when KeyBanc analysts slashed their fourth-quarter estimates for Model 3 deliveries to about 5,000 from 15,000.

What’s on deck in economic data?

Weekly jobless claims for last week are due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, forecast to show 239,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, down from 245,000 the week before.

Data on advance trade in goods for November are out at 8:30 a.m. Eastern as well, followed by the purchasing managers index for Chicago at 9:45 a.m. Eastern.

What are other markets doing?

Bitcoin prices plunged, with spot prices BTCUSD, -6.19% erasing more than $1,000 after South Korea announced tougher measures to crack down on cryptocurrencies trade.

The dollar dropped against most other major currencies, with the ICE index DXY, -0.33%  down 0.3% at 92.730. The broad-based dollar selloff came after U.S. Treasury yields tumbled on Wednesday.

Metals were mostly higher, with gold prices GCG8, +0.09%  up 0.2% at $1,294.50 an ounce.

Asian stocks closed mostly higher, while European markets wavered around the flat line.

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