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US futures jittery after GDP data

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a slightly higher open on Tuesday after the release of GDP data, as oil prices continued to weigh on investors in the last few trading days before the Christmas holiday.

The final read on third-quarter GDP came in at an annualized rate of 2 percent. Economists polled by Reuters expect annual growth of 1.9 percent, down slightly from the second estimate of 2.1 percent but above the advance estimate of 1.5 percent.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

November existing home sales figures are out at 10:00 a.m. and October's FHFA home price index is also due for release at 9:00 a.m.

Heading into the final two weeks of the year, limited liquidity is likely to heighten the severity of market moves, particularly during the holiday periods of Christmas and New Year's Eve, when most Western markets will be closed.

"The market is likely to be driven increasingly by positioning, year-end related flows and momentum rather than relative economic fundamentals over the less liquid holiday period. The U.S. dollar could weaken both modestly and temporarily during this period as the market remains heavily long U.S. dollars as evident in the latest IMM positioning report," said currency analyst at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Lee Hardman.

Oil prices edged away from multi-year lows on Tuesday, but mild weather and ballooning supplies mean that prices are expected to remain depressed into 2016.

Internationally traded benchmark Brent was at $36.36 per barrel Tuesday. That was over $2 above the 11-year low hit on Monday, although the price jump was more related to a roll-over in contracts and the start of the peak demand winter season than because of changing fundamentals, according to traders.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $35.95 per barrel, up from 2009 lows of $33.98 during the previous session.

Brent crude oil prices fell to levels last seen in 2004 on Monday, dropping below the lows hit during the 2008 financial crisis on renewed worries over a global oil glut.

On the earnings front, Nike will report after the bell.

In Europe, equities traded mixed, despite a recovery in oil prices from multi-year lows.