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Futures head higher as Congress returns

NEW YORK (AP) — Stock futures are heading higher before the government releases what is expected to be the latest positive news for the housing industry.

There is a chance that all economic data coming out Thursday will be overshadowed by budget negotiations as Congress returns to Washington.

Dow Jones industrial futures are up 21 points to 13,069. The broader S&P futures have added 3.5 points to 1,417. Nasdaq futures are up 6.75 points to 2,635.25.

Economists expect the Commerce Department to report that sales of new homes rose 3.2 percent in November compared with October. Steady job gains and low mortgage rates have boosted sales of both newly built and previously occupied homes this year.

And the Labor Department posts weekly unemployment benefits applications, which should indicate modest job growth.

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