Aside from keeping tabs on D.C. lawmakers, investors will get a fresh look at the labor market, with the government's weekly report on initial jobless claims and the monthly report on private-sector jobs from payroll processor ADP.
U.S. private sector added 215,000 jobs in December, according to the latest ADP report. And the government reported first-time jobless claims rose 10,000 to 372,000 in the latest week.
The two jobs reports serve as a prelude to the government's closely watched monthly jobs report, due Friday morning. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com are expecting the report will show job growth continued at a modest pace in December, with employers adding 150,000 jobs.
European markets retreated slightly in early trading after posting gains of 2% Wednesday, while Asian markets ended higher. Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.4% while the Australia ASX All Ordinaries index added 0.8%. Markets in Tokyo and Shanghai were closed for an extended New Year's holiday.