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Stock Futures Point to Lower Open

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stock futures were pulling back Thursday as investors digested the first round of a big batch of economic releases while keeping a very close eye on developments in the U.S. 'fiscal cliff' talks.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 18 points, or 24.03 points above fair value, at 13,201. Futures for the S&P 500 were down 2 points, or 1.69 points above fair value, at 1431. Futures for the Nasdaq were down 0.50 points, or 7.01 points above fair value, at 2692.

"While negotiations on the fiscal cliff have stalled over the last couple of days, the likelihood of going past year-end without any resolution of the fiscal cliff has not increased, in our view," according to Goldman Sachs economists. "This is due in part to progress made to date in negotiations between President Obama and Speaker Boehner. However, it is also because it has become increasingly possible that if those negotiations fail, a fallback plan could be passed to avert at least some of the fiscal restraint scheduled for 2013, with remaining issues potentially revisited in early 2013."

Major U.S. stock averages fell Wednesday for the first time this week as politicians wrangled over the "fiscal cliff" deal in Washington.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that initial jobless claims for the week ended Dec. 15 rose 17,000 to 361,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised figure of 344,000. Economists, on average, expected initial claims to rise to 357,000.

The four-week moving average was 367,750, a decrease of 13,750 from the previous week's unrevised average of 381,500.

Continuing claims for the week ended Dec. 8 increased by 12,000 to 3.225 million from the preceding week's upwardly revised level of 3.213 million. Economists were expecting continuing claims of 3.199 million.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis' third read on third-quarter U.S. gross domestic product was 3.1%, up from the prior estimate of 2.7%. Economists were expecting a read of 2.8%.

At 10 a.m., the National Association of Realtors is forecast to say that existing-homes sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.87 million in November from a pace of 4.79 million in October.

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