Wall Street set for a positive open amid thin holiday trade

  • Trade is expected to be lighter across markets this week as investors await the start of a new year
  • No earnings are set to be released

U.S. stock index futures are posting modest gains ahead of Thursday's open, as investors turn their attention to what the next year will bring for markets.

This week, markets are opening back up following the festive holiday break although trading remains thin. U.S. stocks finished Wednesday slightly higher, lifted by gains seen in the real estate and utilities sectors.

In economic news Thursday, weekly jobless claims came in at 245,000 versus the 240,000 estimate.

A Christmas tree stands outside the New York Stock Exchange on December 22, 2009 in New York City.
Dario Cantatore | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images
A Christmas tree stands outside the New York Stock Exchange on December 22, 2009 in New York City.

After President Donald Trump signed a $1.5 trillion tax bill into law last Friday, which aims to cut tax rates for both individuals and companies, it will be of key importance as to whether more economic news will boost markets.

The energy market will also be at the front of investors' minds after crude futures hit a more than two-year high earlier this week. In today's session, oil prices posted mild gains on the back of solid data out of China. Elsewhere, copper has hit a fresh four-year peak.

Investors will also be paying attention to the latest in bitcoin, as the cryptocurrency continues to see volatile price moves.

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In individual stock news, retailers will be of key importance, as investors await news as to how the industry performed during the festive period.

Meantime, Apple and Amazon are reportedly in licensing talks with Riyadh, when it comes to investing in Saudi Arabia, Reuters reported citing two sources.

No earnings are set to be released.