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Wall Street stocks aim for third straight day of gains

Final U.S. third-quarter gross domestic product data will be in the spotlight at 8:30 a.m. EST, with economists in a Reuters survey forecasting a 2.0 percent annualized pace of growth, a repeat of the preliminary estimate. 

Other data on tap includes weekly jobless claims, also at 8:30 a.m. EST, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers at 9:55 a.m. EST, and the November report on leading economic indicators from the Conference Board at 10 a.m. EST. 

S&P 500 futures rose 6.5 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures was up 50 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 9.25 point. 

Volume is expected to remain light as the Christmas holiday draws closer, leaving the market susceptible to heightened volatility. 

European stocks rose 1.1 percent early Thursday, reversing the previous session's losses. Nagging worries over the euro zone debt crisis, despite the European Central Bank's massive loan operation on Tuesday, were seen capping the rebound. 

Yahoo Inc rose 1.6 percent to $16.25 in premarket trade after sources said the company was considering a plan to unload stakes in its prized Asian assets as part of a complicated share transaction. 

European Commission antitrust officials showed no signs of being swayed by Deutsche Boerse's and NYSE Euronext's arguments to save their deal, sources said, and they appeared likely to take their campaign directly to commissioners. 

In Asia, shares fell as doubts remained over whether the ECB's loan operation would flow into struggling euro zone economies and help restore confidence. 

Technology shares slumped Wednesday, pushing the Nasdaq down 1 percent after Oracle Corp's weak quarterly results cast doubts on the sector's health, even as broader markets closed mostly flat in a thinly traded day.