* Stock markets close at 1 p.m. ET
* Jobless claims fell to 267,000 last week
* Crude prices up marginally
* Futures: Dow down 0.2 pct, S&P down 0.09 pct, Nasdaq up 0.09 pct (Updates to open)
By Abhiram Nandakumar
Dec 24 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks indexes were little changed on Thursday in a shortened trading session on Christmas eve, dragged down by energy stocks.
Equity markets will close at 1 p.m. EST (1800 GMT) on Thursday, ahead of the Christmas Day holiday on Friday. Volume is expected to be light, which could exacerbate volatility.
Crude prices were up marginally, with U.S. crude set for gains for the fourth straight day.
European stocks followed a rally on Asian bourses on Thursday, driven by gains in oil.
“Market is going to be on holiday mode. I think we’re going to trade in slow motion for most of the day,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial in New York.
At 9:39 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 35.48 points, or 0.2 percent, at 17,567.13, the S&P 500 was down 1.89 points, or 0.09 percent, at 2,062.4 and the Nasdaq Composite index was up 4.29 points, or 0.09 percent, at 5,050.23.
Nine of the 10 major S&P sectors were lower, led by the 0.62 percent fall in the energy sector.
Exxon and Chevron were off by half a percent and weighed on the sector.
Wall Street closed higher on Wednesday for the third straight session this week. The S&P 500 finished 1.24 percent higher, bringing its gain this week to almost 3 percent after a tepid start in December.
Weekly jobless claims fell to 267,000, staying below 300,000 for 42 weeks in a row. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims dipping to 270,000 in the latest week.
MBIA shares were up 8 percent at $6.74 after Puerto Rico’s debt-ridden power utility PREPA tentatively agreed to restructure its debt. MBIA is one of PREPA’s bond insurers, as is Assured Guaranty, which was up 2.2 percent at $27.35.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,478 to 1,143. On the Nasdaq, 1,323 issues rose and 823 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed three new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 17 new highs and 10 new lows. (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar and Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D‘Silva)