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US STOCKS-Futures rise in pre-Christmas trade; Alibaba falls on China probe

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* Futures up: Dow 0.2%, S&P 0.2%, Nasdaq 0.1%

Dec 24 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose on Thursday ahead of a shortened trading session on hopes of a gradual economic rebound, while Alibaba slumped after China launched an antitrust investigation into the e-commerce giant.

The S&P 500 and the Dow ended higher on Wednesday as investors pivoted to cyclical stocks that stand to benefit most during a recovery, encouraged by COVID-19 vaccine rollouts and passing of the coronavirus relief bill.

The so-called rotation weighed on the tech-dominated Nasdaq, which ended lower.

Investors also cheered reports that Britain and the European Union were on the cusp of striking a narrow Brexit trade deal.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump on Wednesday vetoed a bipartisan defense policy bill and raised the prospect that the United States could face a government shutdown during a pandemic.

Alibaba Group plunged 7.3% after China launched an antitrust investigation into the commerce major as part of an accelerating crackdown on anticompetitive behavior.

At 6:37 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 50 points, or 0.17%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 7.75 points, or 0.21%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 17.75 points, or 0.14%.

Markets will close at 1:00 PM ET on Thursday and will be closed for Christmas holiday on Friday.

Energy stocks, including Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp, rose slightly in premarket trade, tracking strength in the crude market as a drop in U.S. stockpiles and hints of an imminent Brexit deal underpinned oil prices. (Reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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