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Wall Street wobbly in thin volumes ahead of holidays

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a flat open on Thursday amid light trade as investors prepare for a shortened trading day for the Christmas holiday.

Stocks close at 1 p.m. ET on Thursday and are closed for the Christmas holiday on Friday. Other markets including energy and bonds will also close early, shutting at 1:30 p.m. ET and 2 p.m., ET, respectively.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Lucas Jackson | Reuters
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

In economic news, weekly jobless claims came in at 267,000.

Treasury yields held little changed, with the 2-year yield at 0.99 percent and the 10-year yield near 2.26 percent.

The U.S. dollar index was about 0.3 percent lower against major world currencies, with the euro near $1.095 and the yen at 120.42 yen against the greenback as of 8:35 a.m., ET.

Oil will be in focus, after a bounce in crude prices helped propel U.S. stocks to closer sharply higher on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones ending up triple digits. Natural gas inventories are due later in the morning.

U.S. crude prices rose for a fourth straight session on Thursday, headed for a 9 percent weekly gain in the lead-up to Christmas, as the market tightened on the back of falling supplies and exports.

Front-month West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures trading at around $37.70 per barrel early on Thursday, set for the biggest weekly gain since early October. Internationally traded Brent futures trading at around $37.60 a barrel, as U.S. crude defended the small premium it regained this week for the first time in around a year.

In Europe, stocks traded mixed as the German DAX and a number of other markets were closed today, with other bourses opened for a shortened trading day.

Despite wild volatility this year, the U.S. benchmark S&P 500 is barely positive for the year and it's uncertain whether stocks will finish 2015 in the green.

As of Wednesday's close, the S&P 500 is up 0.26 percent for the year so far, while the Nasdaq composite has posted a year-to-date gain of 6.5 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average remains more than 1 percent lower for 2015.

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After Thursday's half-day session, there will be just five more trading days left this year and according to analysts, stocks are typically higher on those five days, as well as during the first two of January.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the S&P 500 is up 0.26 percent for 2015.