US STOCKS-Futures rise in pre-Christmas trade; Alibaba falls on China probe

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(For a Reuters live blog on U.S., UK and European stock markets, click LIVE/ or type LIVE/ in a news window.)

* Futures up: Dow 0.2%, S&P 0.2%, 0.1%

By Devik Jain and Ambar Warrick

Dec 24 (Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures rose on Thursday ahead of a shortened trading session on hopes of a gradual economic rebound, while Alibaba (NYSE:) slumped after China launched an antitrust investigation into the e-commerce giant.

The and the Dow ended higher on Wednesday as investors pivoted to cyclical stocks that stand to benefit most during a recovery, encouraged by COVID-19 vaccine rollouts and passing of the coronavirus relief bill.

The so-called rotation weighed on the tech-dominated Nasdaq, which ended lower.

Investors also cheered reports that Britain and the European Union were on the cusp of striking a narrow Brexit trade deal. President Donald Trump on Wednesday vetoed a bipartisan defense policy bill and raised the prospect that the United States could face a government shutdown during a pandemic. Group BABA.N plunged 7.3% after China launched an antitrust investigation into the commerce major as part of an accelerating crackdown on anticompetitive behavior. 6:37 a.m. ET, 1YMcv1 were up 50 points, or 0.17%, EScv1 were up 7.75 points, or 0.21%, and NQcv1 were up 17.75 points, or 0.14%.

Markets will close at 1:00 PM ET on Thursday and will be closed for Christmas holiday on Friday.

Energy stocks, including Exxon Mobil Corp (NYSE:) XOM.N and Chevron Corp (NYSE:) CVX.N , rose slightly in premarket trade, tracking strength in the crude market as a drop in U.S. stockpiles and hints of an imminent Brexit deal underpinned oil prices. O/R

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