By Sara Sjolin and Carla Mozee, MarketWatch

Guess slides premarket after cutting outlook

U.S. stocks looked set to struggle for direction Thursday, as investors took stock of what an OPEC-fueled rally for oil prices means for markets and the U.S. economy.

As December trading was set to get under way, futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average turned down 5 points to 19,117. Futures for the S&P 500 index slipped 2.3 points to 2,196.50. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 index fell 8.50 points, or 0.2%, to 4,807.50.

The moves come after a choppy session on 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.

OPEC's deal continued to support gains for oil prices Thursday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-prices-keep-climbing-after-opec-deal-brent-shoots-above-52-a-barrel-2016-12-01), although prices briefly dipped ahead of the open. Brent crude was up 1%, above $52 a barrel, and West Texas Intermediate oil futures picked up 1.2% to trade just above $50 a barrel. The contracts soared more than 9% on Wednesday. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-prices-rebound-but-many-doubtful-opec-can-get-a-deal-done-2016-11-30)

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)

The Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE) rose 0.6% premarket as oil prices rose.That ETF, the most popular way for investors to play the energy space, on Wednesday leapt 5.1%, its biggest one-day move since November 2011.

Even as energy stocks powered higher Wednesday, stronger advances for U.S. equities fizzled, leaving the Dow industrials to close marginally higher and the S&P 500 index and Nasdaq Composite ending in negative territory.

"Given the step change we've now seen in oil prices, this has the potential to deliver a meaningful impact to manufacturing costs, inflation and may also prove unsettling for consumers as North America moves into the depths of winter," said Jamieson Blake, retail sales manager at ADS Securities London, in a note.

All three benchmarks still posted gains for November.

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 themundane matters of economic fundamentals with the latest manufacturing PMI numbers for November from Japan, China, Europe, the U.K. and the U.S.," said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, in a note.

Earlier Thursday, 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).

Express Inc. (EXPR) dropped 13% ahead of the bell after the apparel and accessories retailer beat fiscal third-quarter expectations but provided a downbeat outlook for the current quarter (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/expresss-stock-plunges-after-profit-and-sales-outlook-were-well-below-expectations-2016-12-01).

Dollar General Corp.(DG) fell 4.9% premarket following weaker-than-expected third-quarter results.

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 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-in-the-red-as-consumer-goods-shares-fall-but-oil-shares-rise-2016-12-01).

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.

--Barbara Kollmeyer in Madrid contributed to this report.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 01, 2016 07:28 ET (12:28 GMT)

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