US stocks trade higher in early hour of trading

Major US equity indices traded with small gains during the opening hour on Thursday, with all the three major indices on track for strong yearly gains. 

A modest uptick in crude oil prices, holding just below 2-1/2 year highs, helped lift energy-related shares and remained supportive of the initial modest gains. Today's US crude oil inventory data might now influence investors' risk appetite and provide some trading impetus. 

Trading volumes, however, remained thin on the second last trading day of the year and is likely to remain so until investors return after the New Year’s holiday on Monday.

Nevertheless, the broader S&P 500 Index remains on track for over 20% yearly gain, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average and tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index were looking at gains anywhere between 25% and 30%. 

On the economic data front, the US initial jobless claims were unchanged at 245K during the week ended December 22, while the US goods trade deficit unexpectedly increased to $69.7 billion in November. Meanwhile, Chicago PMI jumped to its highest level since 2011, coming in at 67.6 for December as against previous month’s reading of 63.9, and helped earlier softer data.

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