Friday December 2nd


Stock futures fall slightly as investors await U.S. jobs data

U.S. stock index futures fell slightly Friday as investors looked ahead to the November jobs report for insights into the health of the economy. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were off by 46 points, or 0.2%. S&P 500 futures lost 0.2%, while Nasdaq-100 futures fell 0.3%. Investors are focused on the Labor Department’s report on non-farm payrolls, the unemployment rate and hourly wages, due at 8:30 a.m. Economists expect the economy to have added 200,000 jobs in November, according to Dow Jones, which would be a smaller gain compared with the 261,000 seen in October. Friday’s is the final monthly employment report before the Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting on Dec. 13 and 14, in which the central bank is expected to raise its fed funds target rate by a half percentage point. A 50 basis point increase would mark a slowing from the prior 75 basis point rate hikes set by the central bank. Fed Chair Jerome Powell appeared to confirm slowing rate hikes on the horizon in a Wednesday speech, noting that a pull back could start as earlier as this month. Stocks rallied, with the Dow ending up more than 700 points, following his remarks. “Considering the data we’ve seen since the last meeting, I feel it would take something truly shocking for the Fed to change course now,” said Craig Erlam, market analyst at Oanda. On Thursday, The Dow closed lower by nearly 195 points as traders looked to reduce exposure before the jobs data came out. The S&P 500 inched down 0.09% on Thursday, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained 0.13%. Thursday’s moves followed a mixed batch of economic data, including a core personal consumption expenditures report that was slightly better than expected on a monthly basis and a bigger-than-expected decline in the ISM Manufacturing Index. The so-called PCE deflator is one of the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauges. Markets in the Asia-Pacific mostly fell while investors looked for clarity after China signaled slight easing of its stringent Covid restrictions. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 traded 1.59% lower to 27,777.90 and the Topix fell 1.64% to 1,953.98. The Kospi in South Korea fell 1.84% to 2,434,33 as the nation saw its annualized consumer price index for November inch lower from the previous month. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.72% to end its session at 7,301.5. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index struggled for direction and fell 0.15% in its final hour of trade. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite also fell 0.29% and the Shenzhen Component lost 0.4%. Oil prices edged lower in early Asian trade on Friday as the U.S. dollar pared some losses, while easing Covid-19 curbs in two Chinese cities limited losses. Brent crude futures were down 11 cents or 0.1% at $86.77 per barrel by 1:28 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures lost 14 cents or 0.2% to $81.08 per barrel. Gold prices were flat on Friday but set for their best week in three ahead of the U.S. jobs report, helped by the dollar’s retreat on expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will slow the pace of interest rate hikes. Spot gold was little changed at $1,800.78 per ounce as of 0037 GMT, after hitting its highest level since Aug. 10 earlier in the session. U.S. gold futures were steady at $1,814.60. Bullion jumped about 2% on Thursday, setting it on track for its second straight weekly gain. The dollar index was headed for a weekly loss of over 1%. A weaker greenback makes dollar-priced gold less expensive for overseas buyers.