U.S. markets were set for a mixed open Thursday as a mini rebound in tech stocks boosted the Nasdaq, the dollar rose to its highest level in nearly two weeks and bitcoin blasted through $15,000.
Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were trading down 43 points, or 0.18%, while those linked to the broader S&P 500 rose slightly. Big-cap tech stocks, which helped boost market sentiment Wednesday, look set to extend gains again Thursday with Facebook Inc (FB) , Google parent Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) and Apple Inc. (AAPL) all indicated higher in premarket dealing. The moves should help the Nasdaq open around 18 points higher at the start of trading.
Broadcom Ltd. (AVGO) rose 4.4% in premarket trading after the chipmaker's fiscal fourth-quarter earnings topped Wall Street estimates and the company predicted revenue in its fiscal first quarter to exceed forecasts.
General Electric Co. (GE) shares will also be in focus after the company said it will axe more than 2,000 jobs in Europe as part of a worldwide reduction in its workforce that could reach 12,000 in an effort to cut costs by around $3.5 billion over the next two years.
GE traded 0.3% higher in premarket trading.
Weekly U.S. jobless claims in the U.S. fell 2,000 to a five-week low of 236,000.
Lululemon Athletica Inc. (LULU) was also an active premarket mover, rising 9%, after the clothing retailer topped Wall Street estimates with its third-quarter earnings and gave investors upbeat guidance for the holiday season, during which it expects sales of as much as $885 million over the three months ending in December.
Gold stocks such as Newmont Mining Corp. (NEM) and Harmony Gold Mining Co. (HMY) were active to the downside after bullion prices slumped to a four-month low Thursday amid a global pullback in commodities and metals prices and the continued rise in digital currencies driven by investors seeking alternatives to the bullion's traditional "store of value" play.
Gold fell 0.7% to $1,256.70 an ounce, extending its three-month decline to around 7.5%. The moves mirror recent price declines in global industrial metals, including copper, which hit a three-month low of $6,057 per ton Wednesday, and platinum, which touched a five-month low of $895.74 an ounce amid speculation of reduced demand from China.
Bitcoin's meteoric rise, however, has been the most influential driver of gold prices as investors rotated into the digital currency as a store of value, taking it more than 40% higher this month alone. At last check, bitcoin was trading at $14,874.
The dollar index, a benchmark of the greenback's strength against a basket of six global currencies, was marked at a near two-week high of 93.70, although it was difficult to isolate drivers for the move as asset prices around the world appeared trade independently, as is often the case in the final sessions of the year as investors put the final touches on their portfolios prior to the holiday season lull.
Nonetheless, the dollar's upward momentum kept a lid on regional currencies in Asia and helped stocks rise modestly from their two-month lows, with the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index trading 0.12% higher by the end of trading and the Nikkei 225 in Japan taking back most of Wednesday's losses -- which were the biggest in nine months -- with a 1.45% advance that took the benchmark to 22,498.03 points.
Commodity prices have been notably active over the past week, with copper sinking to a four-month low before rebounding around 0.4% in the Asia session and global oil prices tumbling more than 3% Wednesday to a two-month low after data showed U.S. production rates rose to an all-time high of 9.71 million barrels per day in the week ended Dec. 1.
West Texas Intermediate crude contracts for February added 0.2% to $56.09, although gains were held down by both the surging U.S. production rates published by the Energy Information Administration Wednesday and figures that showed gasoline stocks rose a much larger-than-expected 6.8 million barrels in the week ended Dec. 1.
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