Friday May 7th


Stock futures rise slightly ahead of key April jobs report

U.S. stock index futures inched higher Friday as investors awaited the highly anticipated jobs report to assess the pace of the economic recovery. Dow futures were higher by 40 points. Contracts tied to the S&P 500 gained 0.1%. Nasdaq 100 futures rose 0.2%. The Labor Department will release April’s jobs report at 8:30 a.m. ET on Friday. Economists polled by Dow Jones expect 1 million payrolls to have been added last month and the unemployment rate is expected to have fallen to 5.8% from 6% April’s job report will carry extra importance as the Federal Reserve maintains a zero rates policy and other easing measures in the face of a recovering economy. As marketplace concerns about inflation brew, some on Wall Street believe an exceptionally strong jobs market report could prove an early sign for the Fed that conditions are finally returning to healthy. In early trading Friday, stocks linked to the reopening of the economy were gaining. Shares of Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line holdings were up about 2% each in premarket trading. Expedia Group was also higher. During the regular session on Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 318 points, or 0.9%, to close near its session high and clinch a record close of 34,548.53. The S&P 500 rose 0.8% to 4,201.62. The Nasdaq Composite erased earlier losses and gained 0.4% to 13,632.84. Thursday’s gains came after a better-than-expected reading on jobless claims. First-time claims for unemployment insurance totaled 498,000 for the week ended May 1, hitting a fresh pandemic-era low and better than a Dow Jones estimate of 527,000. For the week, the major stock indexes were mixed as of Thursday’s close. The Dow is up about 2%, the S&P 500 had gained 0.49% and the Nasdaq Composite had shed more than 2.3%. Asia-Pacific markets traded mixed Friday, with some indexes shedding gains, ahead of the U.S. jobs report due later in the day that might provide some indication on what the Fed could do next. Japan’s Nikkei 225 gave up most of its gains to close 0.09% higher at 29,357.82 while the Topix index added 0.29% to 1,933.05. In South Korea, the Kospi advanced 0.58% to 3,197.20 while in Australia, the benchmark ASX 200 gained 0.27% to 7,080.80 as major banks and miners rose. Taiwan’s Taiex added 1.71% to 17,285 but Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gave up earlier gains to close down 0.09% at 28,610.65. In Singapore, the Straits Times Index added 0.91% in late-afternoon trade. Chinese mainland shares were unable to hold on to earlier gains: The Shanghai composite closed down 0.65% at 3,418.87 while the Shenzhen component lost 1.95% to 13,933.81. Oil prices recovered after a 1% dip in the previous session, on buoyant economic data from China and the United States even as the surging pandemic in India capped prices. Brent crude futures for July were at $68.47 a barrel by 0338 GMT, up 38 cents, or 0.6%, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for June rose 38 cents, or 0.6%, to $65.09. Gold prices on Friday hovered near a 2-1/2-month high and were on track for their best week in five months, aided by a weaker dollar and a pullback in Treasury yields as investors cautiously await U.S. non-farm payrolls report due later in the day. Spot gold was steady at $1,815.88 per ounce by 0246 GMT, after hitting its highest since Feb. 16 at $1,817.90 in the previous session. Bullion up more than 2.5% so far this week. U.S. gold futures were little changed at $1,816.40.