US STOCKS-Futures increase in trade before Christmas; Alibaba falls on China probe

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* Rising futures: Dow 0.2%, S&P 0.2%, Nasdaq 0.1%

December 24 (Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures rose on Thursday, before a reduced trading session in the hope of a gradual economic recovery, while Alibaba plummeted after China launched an antitrust investigation into the e-commerce giant.

The S&P 500 and Dow closed higher on Wednesday, with investors turning to the cyclical stocks that would benefit most during the recovery, encouraged by the launch of the COVID-19 vaccine and the approval of the coronavirus relief law.

The so-called rotation weighed on Nasdaq, dominated by technology, which ended in a low.

Investors also applauded reports that Britain and the European Union were on the verge of closing a close trade deal with Brexit.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump on Wednesday vetoed a bipartisan defense policy bill and raised the prospect that the United States could face a government shutdown during a pandemic.

The Alibaba Group plummeted 7.3% after China launched an antitrust investigation into big business as part of an accelerated crackdown on anti-competitive behavior.

At 6:37 am ET, Dow e-minis rose 50 points, or 0.17%, S&P 500 e-minis rose 7.75 points, or 0.21%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis rose 17.75 points, or 0.14%.

Markets will close at 1 pm ET on Thursday and the Christmas holiday on Friday.

Energy stocks, including Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp, rose slightly in the pre-market, accompanying the strength in the crude oil market as a drop in US stocks and indications of an imminent Brexit deal sustained oil prices. (Reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru; edited by Sriraj Kalluvila)


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