Shannon Stapleton | Reuters
Stock 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%.
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