KEEPING SCORE: Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.1 percent to 7,340 while France's CAC 40 was flat at 5,373. Germany's DAX gained 0.1 percent to 13,013. Futures augured a soft opening on Wall Street - Dow futures were down 0.1 percent while S&P futures were flat.
TAX: The U.S. Senate voted to begin negotiation with the House to reconcile their two tax bills on Wednesday in a sign that they can iron out differences. Republican leaders are pushing to send a final blended package to President Donald Trump to sign before Christmas.
GEOPOLITICAL ISSUES: Market reaction was muted to Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, ending decades of unwavering U.S. neutrality on the issue. In other global developments, the British and Irish prime ministers spoke, seeking to overcome a logjam in Brexit talks, but there was no sign of an imminent breakthrough.
U.S. JOBS: A report from payroll processor ADP showed private employers added 190,000 jobs last month, slightly better than expected. The report comes two days before a government jobs report, among the last key economic indicators before the Federal Reserve's meeting next week.
BITCOIN EUPHORIA: The dollar price of the virtual currency rose above $15,000 on Thursday for the first time, as investors seem encouraged by the looming futures trading of bitcoin on the CBOE platforms in the U.S. Trading was not dented by the news that a bitcoin mining company in Slovenia was hacked, for the estimated theft of about $70 million.
ASIA'S DAY: Asia closed mixed. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 jumped 1.5 percent to 22,498.03 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.5 percent to 5,977.70. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index reversed earlier losses, adding 0.3 percent to 28,303.19. Most other regional benchmarks fell. The Shanghai Composite index slipped 0.7 percent to 3,272.05 and South Korea's Kospi lost 0.5 percent to 2,461.98. Stocks in Southeast Asia were mixed.
OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude recovered slightly. It added 11 cents to $56.07 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Wednesday, the contract sank $1.66. Brent crude, the international standard, added 34 cents to $61.56 per barrel. It lost $1.64 on Wednesday.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 112.74 Japanese yen from 112.27 yen while the euro weakened to $1.1786 from $1.1796.
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