Wall Street is wavering ahead of the opening bell Friday before new hiring data is released for June, which is expected to show a pullback by employers compared with the post-virus outbreak boom of the past two years.
Futures for the Dow Jones industrials wavered between gains and losses of less than 0.1 per cent, while the S&P 500 declined 0.2 per cent.
The Labour Department is expected to report that the nation gained 275,000 jobs last month, according to economists surveyed by the data provider FactSet.
That would be the lowest monthly gain of the past year, during which the job market has sustained a vigorous recovery from the pandemic recession.
Before the pandemic struck in early 2020, monthly hiring that large would have been seen as a robust gain.
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On Thursday, Labour data showed the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits topped the 230,000 mark for the fifth consecutive week. It was the highest level in almost six months.
Tokyo’s main stock market index ebbed following the assassination of former Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, but stayed in positive territory for the day. Abe, 67, died after being shot during a campaign speech Friday in western Japan.
The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo was up 0.6 per cent at 26,654.15 at midday after a gunman shot Abe during a campaign event in the western Japanese city of Nara.
The index was up 1.4 per cent before the attack.
Abe, who oversaw an economic stimulus effort dubbed Abenomics, stepped down as prime minister in 2020.
The Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.2 per cent to 3,370.28 after Bloomberg News reported China might add 1.5 trillion yuan (USD 220 billion) to spending on public works construction this year to stimulate economic growth.
The Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.2 per cent to 21,694.17.
The Kospi in Seoul rose 0.9 per cent to 2,346.14 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 was 0.6 per cent higher at 6,689.30.
India’s Sensex opened up 0.5 per cent at 54,462.63. New Zealand and Southeast Asian markets advanced.
In Europe at midday, London’s FTSE was down 0.5 per cent one day after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his resignation following a series of departures from his Cabinet by members of his Conservative Party.
Germany’s DAX climbed 0.8 per cent and France’s CAC rose 0.1 per cent.
On Wall Street Thursday, the S&P 500 rose to 3,902.62 for its fourth daily increase. Roughly three-fourths of the stocks in the index gained.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.1 per cent to 31,384 and the Nasdaq composite advanced 2.3 per cent to 11,621.35.
There is unease over aggressive US and European interest rate hikes that being deployed to cool inflation because it runs the risk of derailing global economic growth.
Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index rose 1.5 per cent on Thursday after a member of the Fed panel that sets interest rates, James Bullard, said a “soft landing” for the economy was the most likely scenario. Another panel member, Christopher Waller, said “fears of a recession are overblown.” “Investor recession fears ebbed,” said Robert Carnell and Iris Pang of ING in a report.
Bullard, who is president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, said “it would make a lot of sense” to raise the US central bank’s key interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point, or triple the usual margin, at its meeting this month. That would repeat the dramatic mid-June rate hike, the Fed’s biggest in 28 years.
Waller, speaking at a separate event, said he also supported a 0.75-percentage-point hike. He said the Fed might risk “causing some economic damage,” but with a strong labor market, that shouldn’t be too big.
Bloomberg News reported China’s Ministry of Finance was considering a plan to allow local governments to raise money from bond sales to spend on building roads and other public works.
It wasn’t clear whether that represented additional spending or was future bond sales brought forward to help shore up economic growth some forecasters say fell close to zero in the quarter ending in June after anti-virus controls shut down Shanghai and other industrial centers.
Markets also have been on edge about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which sent oil and other commodity prices soaring in recent months.
In energy markets, benchmark US crude reversed course, losing 22 cents to USD 102.51 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract jumped USD 4.20 to USD 102.73 on Thursday. Brent crude, the price basis for international trading, was essentially unchanged at USD 104.97 per barrel in London. It advanced USD 3.96 the previous session to USD 104.65.
The dollar declined to 135.91 yen from Thursday’s 136.11 yen. The euro edged down to USD 1.0145 from USD 1.0156.
Shares of GameStop, which jumped 15 per cent on Thursday after it announced a 4-for-1 stock split, slid more than 5 per cent in premarket trading after Michael Recupero, the chief financial officer at the video game retailer, was ousted abruptly.