U.S. futures inch higher ahead of jobless claims, as Friday’s headline jobs report remains center of attention2 min read

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U.S. futures indicated an upbeat open on Thursday, following global stocks which inched higher ahead of U.S. jobless claims data, which paves the way for Friday’s jobs report.

What are U.S. futures indicating?

  • Dow industrials futures
    YM00,
    +0.18%
    were pointing up around 50 points;

  • S&P 500 futures
    ES00,
    +0.19%
    indicated an open nearly 0.2% higher;

  • Nasdaq 100 futures
    NQ00,
    +0.27%
    suggested the tech-heavy index would open 0.2% in the green

The Dow
DJIA,
-0.14%
fell 48 points on Wednesday to close at 35,312, while the S&P 500
SPX,
+0.03%
held on to end just above flat and the Nasdaq
COMP,
+0.33%
outperformed, rising 0.3%.

What’s driving markets?

Sentiment remains little changed as investors await Friday’s closely-watched jobs report, which will give markets their next chance to guess how and when the U.S. Federal Reserve will begin slowing, or tapering, its program of monthly asset purchases. 

Fed Chair Jerome Powell has signalled that the central bank would be watching employment data as it mulls the end of its pandemic-era measures to add liquidity to markets.

Also read: Fed chair Powell says he supports starting to taper bond purchases this year

On Wednesday, weak numbers from payroll provider ADP’s report and the ISM’s measure of factory jobs underscored the room the U.S. economy still has to grow in terms of employment. That could put Thursday’s data on initial jobless claims from last week in even greater focus ahead of Friday’s jobs report.

“Not a great indicator for Friday’s nonfarm payrolls and this would potentially give the Fed more rope to delay the taper,” said Neil Wilson, an analyst at Markets.com. “If data keeps getting worse, or less good, rather, then you can see the FOMC start to voice concerns at the Sep meeting and we could be in a position where the US central bank actually doesn’t taper asset purchases this year. I still think they will, but this is a very dovish, somewhat politically-motivated Fed with jobs on its mind and Powell looking to keep his job.”

Also of note, the People’s Bank of China announced subsidies for companies battered by the pandemic as well as a more prominent role for local special bonds to drive investment.

In terms of corporate earnings, Hewlett Packard Enterprise
HPE,
-0.78%
reports results alongside American Eagle Outfitters
AEO,
-1.54%,
Broadcom
AVGO,
-0.81%,
and others.

In other markets

  • In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225
    NIK,
    +0.33%
    climbed 0.3% while the Hong Kong Hang Seng Index
    HSI,
    +0.24%
    lifted 0.2% and the Shanghai Composite
    SHCOMP,
    +0.84%
    pushed 0.8% higher

  • In Europe, London’s FTSE 100
    UKX,
    -0.05%
    was just below flat, while the pan-European Stoxx 600
    SXXP,
    +0.18%
    rose 0.2%; in Paris, the CAC 40
    PX1,
    +0.06%
    increased 0.1% while Frankfurt’s DAX
    DAX,
    +0.02%
    moved 0.1% into the green

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