Market Snapshot: U.S. stock futures point to continued volatility for Wall Street

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U.S. stock futures pulled back early Friday, after a wild week of trading that has seen big swings for the major indexes, with the S&P 500 set to end the week with a 3% gain.

How did benchmarks perform?

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures

YMH9, -0.41%

eased 86 points, or 0.4%, to 23,066, while S&P 500 futures

ESH9, -0.42%

 dropped 7.4 points, or 0.3%, to 2,487.50. Nasdaq-100

NQH9, -0.57%

 futures fell 26.75 points, or 0.4%, to 6,294.50.

On Thursday, the Dow industrials

DJIA, +1.14%

 rose 260.37 points, or 1.1%, to end at 23,138.82, after dropping as much as 611 points in a session low. The S&P 500

SPX, +0.86%

 also erased a sharp decline to rise 0.9% to 2,488.83. The Nasdaq Composite

COMP, +0.38%

erased a loss of more than 3% to close up 0.4% to 6,579.49.

The Dow’s move from a 2.67% decline at its session low to a positive finish marked its biggest such intraday swing since Oct. 4, 2011, when it recovered from a fall of 2.75% at its low, according to Dow Jones Market Data. The Thursday turnabout was the largest such swing for the S&P 500 since May 25, 2010, and the largest for the Nasdaq since Nov. 18, 2008.

The Dow’s biggest ever one-day point rise came Wednesday , when it ended with a gain of 1,086.25 points, or 5%, to 22,878.45. The S&P 500 soared 5% to end at 2,467.70 and the Nasdaq rose 5.8% to 6,554.36. That rally came after a brutal selloff in a shortened Christmas Eve session Monday.

Read: Why stock-market investors fear historic rebound was just a ‘wicked bear trap’

Plus: As stocks suffer a December rout, Wall Street strategists bet on 2019 gains

For the week and with one trading session left to go, the Dow and S&P 500 are set to gain 3%, while the Nasdaq is poised for a near 4% rise.

What’s driving the market?

Markets have been batted around this week as a result of light holiday trading volume and computer-driven trading, which have triggered several sharp daily moves and a rise in volatility, which has taken investors by surprise in what can be a quiet period of trading at the end of the year.

Stocks remain down sharply for the month and lower for the year, with the Nasdaq Composite in a bear market and the S&P 500 and Dow solidly in correction territory.

A still-unresolved government shutdown remains as an overhang for stocks, along with concerns about the economy and the next round of company earnings, and analysts have cautioned that volatile conditions for trading could extend well into the new year.

How are other markets trading?

Oil prices were climbing Friday, with West Texas Intermediate crude futures

CLG9, +2.44%

 up $1, or 2.4%, to $45.66 a barrel, as the commodity rebounded from a sharp selloff Thursday. Investors will be watching for U.S. supply data due later.

Elsewhere, investors appeared more cautious, with the ICE Dollar Index

DXY, -0.24%

 dropping 0.1% to 96.353, led by a fall in the dollar against the Japanese yen

USDJPY, -0.45%

 , which is viewed as a haven asset in times of economic and financial market uncertainty.

Asia markets failed to pick up the baton from Wall Street, with the Nikkei 225 index

NIK, -0.31%

 slipping modestly and the Shanghai Composite Index

SHCOMP, +0.44%

 rising just 0.4%. European stock markets were looking at a higher open.

Providing critical information for the U.S. trading day. Subscribe to MarketWatch’s free Need to Know newsletter. Sign up here.

Barbara Kollmeyer is an editor for MarketWatch in Madrid. Follow her on Twitter @bkollmeyer.

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