Market Snapshot: Stock futures flat as Wall Street prepares to ring out a banner year

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The stock market was on track to ring out a banner year in mild form Tuesday, with index futures flat after a round of upbeat data on Chinese manufacturing activity against a backdrop of thin, holiday trading.

What are major indexes doing?

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average YMH20, -0.07% were off 29 points, or less than 0.1%, at 28,427, while S&P 500 futures ESH20, -0.07%  edged 2.9 points lower to 3,220.50. Nasdaq-100 futures NQH20, -0.12%  were 13.5 points lower at 8,721.25, off 0.1%. Futures were flipping between small gains and losses.

Stocks took a step back on Monday, with the Dow DJIA, -0.64%  falling 183.12 points, or 0.6%, to end at 28,462.14, while the S&P 500 SPX, -0.58%  lost 18.73 points, or 0.6%, to finish at 3,221.29. The Nasdaq Composite COMP, -0.67%  gave up 60.62 points, or 0.7%, ending at 8,945.99.

The pullback left the S&P 500 with a year-to-date gain of 28.5%. If that holds, it would mark the benchmark’s strongest calendar-year advance since a 29.6% gain in 2013. It would take a close above 3,248.87 on Tuesday to top the 2013 performance, which would make for the best year since a 31% rise in 1997.

Read: The S&P 500 may be blowing its chance to have its best year since 1997

What’s driving the market?

Stock-index futures lost ground Monday despite incrementally positive news on the trade front, with the South China Morning Post reporting that China’s top trade negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, was set to visit Washington this weekend to sign the so-called phase-one trade deal.

“The visit hasn’t been confirmed yet but judging by recent comments from both Washington and Beijing, this is merely a formality as the partial deal is already wrapped up. What’s striking is the sell-the-fact reaction in stocks, which suggests that this ‘skinny deal’ is finally fully priced into the markets,” said Marios Hadjikyriacos, investment analyst at XM, in a note.

Meanwhile, data indicated easing trade tensions lifted demand for Chinese goods and boosted factory production in the country this month. The official manufacturing purchasing managers index remained unchanged at 50.2 in December, indicating an expansion in activity for a second straight month after contracting for six months.

The economic calendar is light, with the October Case-Shiller home price index due at 9 a.m. Eastern and a December consumer-confidence index reading set for release at 10 a.m. Eastern.

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