Friday January 5th


US futures rise ahead of open, as Wall Street gears up for nonfarm payrolls

U.S. stocks futures pointed to a positive open on Friday, ahead of the all-important U.S. employment data. As the first week of 2018 draws to a close, U.S. investors will be waiting for the December employment situation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, due out at 8:30 a.m. ET. Investors are expected to pore over the latest figures to see how the U.S. economy is performing as of late. According to a Reuters survey, the latest nonfarm payrolls report is expected to show the U.S. economy adding 190,000 jobs in the last month. Meanwhile, U.S. markets rose Thursday after data emerged that the country's private sector had added 250,000 jobs in December, beating expectations. Aside from the all-important jobs data, investors will also be on the lookout for international trade data, due out at 8:30 a.m. ET, in addition to the non-manufacturing ISM report on business and factory orders, both set to be released at 10 a.m. ET. In earnings news, Constellation Brands and Cal-Maine Foods are set to report before the bell. The economy will also likely to be of key importance during two Federal Reserve speeches set to take place. The speeches come just days after the U.S. central bank released the minutes from its December meeting, whereby the Fed raised interest rates, but remained concerned over the state of inflation. Elsewhere, international markets posted solid gains on the last trading day of the week, as investors shrugged off concerns surrounding geopolitical tensions between North Korea and the West, and focused on the positive momentum seen in markets. Asian markets closed higher on Friday, tracking stateside gains after the Dow Jones industrial average hit a major milestone. Markets in the region traded at or around multi-year highs, with Japan's benchmark index touching a 26-year high and the Hang Seng Index earlier hitting a fresh decade-high. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index tacked on 0.89 percent, or 208.2 points, to close at 23,714.53. Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi rose 1.26 percent to end at 2,497.52, with automakers gaining after closing lower in the last session. The New Year rally seen in China markets largely continued on the last trading day of week. On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite edged up 0.2 percent to close at 3,392.36 and the Shenzhen Composite closed 0.04 percent higher at 1,941.8. The Hang Seng Index, last year's top-performing Asian major, slipped below the flat line after trading higher for most of the session. At 3:30 p.m. HK/SIN, the index was off by 0.04 percent. Still, the benchmark traded at 30,725.3, within sight of its all-time high of 31,958.41 set in 2007. However, not all markets traded higher on Friday. Oil prices declined as rising production from the U.S. weighed on sentiment. WTI crude futures were at $61.95 a barrel at 0151 GMT, 5 cents below their last close but not far off the $62.21 May 2015 high reached the previous day. Brent crude futures were at $68.03 a barrel, 4 cents below their last settlement, but not far off the $68.27 high from the day before, also the highest since May 2015. Gold eased from the previous day's 3-1/2 month peak on Friday as the dollar edged higher ahead of key U.S. non-farm payrolls data due later, which will be closely watched for clues on the outlook for Federal Reserve policy. The metal remains on track for a fourth straight weekly gain, however, for the first time since April. It has risen 1.2 percent in the first trading week of the year, having climbed by 13 percent in 2017. Spot gold was down 0.4 percent at $1,317.36 an ounce by 1225 GMT, off Thursday's high of $1,325.86. U.S. gold futures for February delivery were down $3 at $1,318.60.