* Futures down: Dow 18 pts, S&P 2 pts, Nasdaq 6.5 pts
By Tanya Agrawal
Dec 23 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed in thin trading on Friday ahead of the Christmas holiday.
* Volumes have been muted this week, which is also the last full week of trading this year. U.S. markets are shut for the Christmas holiday on Monday.
* U.S. stocks fell on Thursday, weighed down by weakness in retailers as investors stepped back from a recent rally fueled by optimism that President-elect Donald Trump’s policies will boost the economy.
* The decline pulled the Dow Jones Industrial Average further away from the 20,000 mark after it nearly breached that historic level this week for the first time.
“Although Wall Street succumbed to the bears on Thursday, the heightened expectations of a Santa rally elevating the Dow Jones to the golden 20,000 mark could re-attract risk-hungry investors,” said Lukman Otunuga, research analyst at FXTM in Croydon, London.
“With Christmas this weekend and New Year’s just over a week away, global stocks may meander between losses and gains as investors strategize for 2017.”
* Following a sharp rally since the Nov. 8 U.S. election, the Dow is up about 14 percent for the year and the S&P 500 is 11 percent higher on bets that the economy will benefit from Trump’s plans for deregulation and infrastructure spending.
* Economic data scheduled for release includes new home sales for November, which likely advanced 2.1 percent to 575,000 units after declining 1.9 percent in October. The data is expected at 10 a.m. ET (1500 GMT).
* A final reading on consumer sentiment in December is expected to remain unchanged at 98.0.
* Oil slipped below $55 a barrel as a stronger dollar weighed on commodities and as higher Libyan output threatened to counter some of the supply cuts planned by OPEC and other producers.
* Fred’s shares were up 4.7 percent at $20.30 in premarket trading after Alden Global Capital reported a stake of 24.8 percent in the discount store operator.
* U.S.-listed shares of Deutsche Bank were up 1.9 percent at $18.90 after the German lender agreed to a $7.2 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice over its sale and pooling of toxic mortgage securities in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis.
* While stocks will trade for the full day, the U.S. bond market will close at 2 p.m. ET.
Futures snapshot at 7:28 a.m. ET:
* Dow e-minis were down 18 points, or 0.09 percent, with 8,858 contracts changing hands.
* S&P 500 e-minis were down 2 points, or 0.09 percent, with 40,372 contracts traded.
* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 6.5 points, or 0.13 percent, on volume of 7,911 contracts. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D‘Silva)