By Sara Sjolin and Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch

Guess slides premarket after cutting outlook

U.S. stocks were set to kick off December struggling for direction, with futures moving between small gains and losses, as attention turns to a spate of economic data due later.

Oil prices shook off a brief turn lower and pushed higher, but that was failing to equate to indication of any strong gains for the Wall Street's open.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 2 points to 19,134, while those for the S&P 500 index slipped 1.80 points to 2,196.75. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 index fell 6.50 points to 4,809.50.

The subtle moves come after a choppy sessionon Wednesday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-stocks-set-to-step-higher-as-opec-optimism-grows-2016-11-30), when stocks opened with firm gains after news the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed to cut output for the first time in eight years.

However, the advance for equities fizzled through the session, with the Dow average closing marginally higher and the S&P 500 index and Nasdaq Composite ending in negative territory.

All three benchmarks posted advances for November.

On Thursday, investors remained focused on OPEC's decision to cut production by 1.2 million barrels a day to stabilize the struggling oil market. Brent and West Texas Intermediate oil futures surged in Asia, then pulled back some in Europe, before pushing higher once again (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-prices-keep-climbing-after-opec-deal-brent-shoots-above-52-a-barrel-2016-12-01). WTI oil was trading just below $50 a barrel whileBrent crude was trading above $52 a barrel.

Read:These oil stocks are soaring after OPEC's cut -- and more gains are on the way (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/these-us-oil-stocks-are-soaring-after-opecs-cut-and-more-gains-are-on-the-way-2016-11-30)

"Even accounting for the cuts announced yesterday these new levels will still be at the high end for daily output for OPEC production over the last 10-year period, at a time when Russia is still pumping at record levels of 11 million barrels a day and U.S. shale producers are waiting on the sidelines to further increase their own output," said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, in a note.

A return to data: Traders are likely to turn at least part of their attention to economics on Thursday

"Today's price action, as we start the final month of what has been a turbulent year, will return to the mundane matters of economic fundamentals with the latest manufacturing PMInumbers for November from Japan, China, Europe, the U.K. and the U.S.," Hewson added.

The official manufacturing purchasing managers index out of China came in better than expected (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/stimulus-and-property-sales-keep-china-growing-2016-12-01), rising to 51.7 in November from 51.2 in October.

Read:This is what investors say is the biggest risk for 2017 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-is-what-investors-say-is-the-biggest-risk-for-2017-2016-11-30)

U.S. manufacturing PMIs for November are due at 9:45 a.m. Eastern Time, followed by the ISM manufacturing reading at 10 a.m.

Jobless claims for the week ended Nov. 26 are due at 8:30 a.m., with a forecast of 250,000 compared with 251,000 in the week before.

Construction spending for October is slated for release at 10 a.m., while monthly auto sales will trickle out through the morning.

See:

Movers and shakers: Shares of Guess Inc.(GES) slumped 12%in thin premarket trade after the fashion retailer late Wednesday cuts its earnings outlook for the year (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/guess-cuts-outlook-posts-disappointing-results-2016-11-30-17485106).

Ahead of the bell Thursday, Dollar General Corp.(DG) and Express Inc.(EXPR) are on the earnings docket.

Other markets: Asian markets closed firmly higher (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/asia-stocks-higher-with-nikkei-headed-for-best-close-of-2016-2016-12-01), lifted by optimism over the OPEC output deal. Japan's Nikkei 225 index logged its best finish of 2016.

European stocks were mainly lower.

The dollar declined against most other major currencies, with the ICE Dollar Index down 0.2% at 101.26.

Gold fell $4 to $1,166 an ounce. The rest of the precious and base metals sector was lower as well.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 01, 2016 06:11 ET (11:11 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2016 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.