Friday December 3rd


Stock futures little changed ahead of November jobs report as omicron concerns loom

U.S. stock index futures were mostly flat in early trading Friday ahead of the November jobs report as the market nears the end of a roller-coaster week driven by Covid omicron variant developments. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 12 points. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 also were barely in negative territory. Stocks tied closely to the virus have led the market on its week-long seesaw, and that continued Friday. Companies that benefit from the economic expansion, such as hotels and airlines, led losers, while vaccine leader Moderna was among the biggest gainers, with its shares rising 3.4% in premarket trading. Hilton Worldwide was off 1.4% and Delta Air Lines fell 1.2% premarket. The omicron variant has now been detected in five U.S. states, with symptoms so far reported as mild. The November jobs report is set for release Friday morning. Investors expect to see solid job growth last month, with economists surveyed by Dow Jones predicting 573,000 jobs added in November and the unemployment rate slipping to 4.5%. The three major indexes rebounded in Thursday’s regular trading session. The Dow gained 617 points. The S&P 500 rose 1.4% and the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.8%. Cyclical names tied to the economic recovery made back some of their recent losses. Industrials led the S&P 500 sectors Thursday with a 2.89% gain. Elsewhere in markets, Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi announced during Asia trading hours on Friday that it will start delisting from the New York Stock Exchange and make plans to list in Hong Kong instead. Shares rose 3.2% following the news. On the data front Thursday, initial jobless claims totaled 222,000 for the week ended Nov. 27, lower than economists expected. Despite Thursday’s rally, the averages are on pace for a losing week. The Dow and the Nasdaq Composite are each about 0.7% lower on the week, while the S&P 500 is down 0.4%. “With rising cases of the virus, a less accommodative Fed, and tougher growth comps in the year ahead, the uncertainties around the outlook may simply be building — resulting in a more volatile environment for price discovery,” Goldman Sachs’ Chris Hussey said in a note. Asia-Pacific stocks were mixed on Friday, following days of turbulent trading this week as investors continue to monitor the situation surrounding the omicron Covid variant. Chinese tech stocks in Hong Kong plunged after ride-hailing giant Didi announced Friday that it will begin taking steps to delist from the New York Stock Exchange — less than six months after it made its debut stateside. The company also said in the statement that it will pursue a listing in Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s broader Hang Seng index ended the trading day about 0.1% lower at 23,766.69. Mainland Chinese stocks closed higher, with the Shanghai composite rising 0.94% to 3,607.43 while the Shenzhen component climbed 0.857% to 14,892.05. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed 1% higher at 28,029.57 while the Topix index gained 1.63% to finish the trading day at 1,957.86. Oil prices climbed on Friday after the producer group OPEC+ said it could review its production hike policy at short notice if oil demand collapsed due to a rising number of lockdowns, while Brent was on course for a sixth week of declines. Brent crude futures rose $1.90, or 2.7%, to $71.57 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose $1.78, or 2.7%, to $68.31 a barrel. Gold prices were set for their third straight weekly loss despite being steady on Friday, as U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s comments that pandemic-era asset purchases could end sooner than previously anticipated dented bullion’s appeal. Spot gold was up 0.1% at $1,770.80 per ounce by 1107 GMT, after hitting its lowest in nearly a month on Thursday. U.S. gold futures rose 0.5% to $1,770.70.