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US stock futures steady ahead of crucial monthly jobs report

March 8, 2024 6:54 AM

Investing.com -- U.S. stock futures traded in a muted fashion Friday ahead of the release of the widely-anticipated monthly jobs report, with investors looking for more insight into the health of the important U.S. labor market.

By 06:30 ET (11:30 GMT), the Dow Futures contract was up 160 points, or 0.5%, S&P 500 Futures traded 8 points, or 0.2%, higher and Nasdaq 100 Futures climbed 30 points, or 0.2%.

The main U.S. averages closed higher Thursday, amid optimism over the potential for future interest rate cuts. The S&P 500 index gained 1% and closed at a new record high, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite added 1.5% and the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.3%.

Payrolls loom large

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell boosted confidence during the second day of his testimony in front of Congress, stating that the U.S. central bank was "not far" from gaining the confidence it needs in falling inflation to begin cutting interest rates.

His comments suggested Powell had confidence that recent higher-than-expected inflation readings and other strong economic data won't interrupt the ongoing decline in price pressures that took root last year.

With this in mind, all eyes are on the release of the monthly jobs report, with economists predicting that the U.S. economy added jobs at a slower pace in February.

Nonfarm payrolls are estimated to have risen by 198,000, down from 353,000 in January. Meanwhile, average hourly wage growth is expected to have risen 0.2% on the month, a cooling from the previous month’s 0.6%.

Earlier this week, private payrolls, job openings and unemployment claims seemed to indicate that the labor picture in the world's largest economy is solid but softening.

Costco hit by revenue weakness

The quarterly earnings season is gradually drawing to a close, but there are still a number of major companies in the spotlight.

Costco (NASDAQ: COST) stock fell almost 5% premarket after the big-box retailer reported second-quarter revenue that missed expectations as demand for higher-priced items was dented by a more cost-conscious consumer.

Broadcom (NASDAQ: AVGO) stock fell 2% as investors noted that the semiconductor group did not raise its full-year guidance target despite posting better-than-expected fiscal first-quarter results, suggesting wariness about the future.

On the flip side, Gap (NYSE: GPS) soared almost 7% premarket after the fashion retailer beat fourth-quarter expectations, buoyed by strong demand on improved product offerings at its Old Navy and namesake brands during the holiday season.

Crude slips back ahead of payrolls

Oil prices retreated Friday, amid caution ahead of the crucial U.S. jobs report.

By 06:30 ET, the U.S. crude futures traded 0.5% lower at $78.53 a barrel, while the Brent contract dropped 0.4% to $82.62 a barrel.

The crude markets had shown early strength amid optimism over growing demand in China, and the U.S., the two largest consumers of energy in the world.

However, the International Energy Agency's oil markets and industry division head, said in an interview with Reuters, that the agency sees a relatively well-supplied market in 2024 with demand growth slowing.

Additionally, gold futures rose 0.5% to $2,175.15/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% lower at 1.0934.


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