MARKET SNAPSHOT: Stock Futures Point To Lower Open As Geopolitical Worries Persist

By Carla Mozee and Anora Mahmudova, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Private-sector employers add 153,000 jobs in June

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U.S. stock futures pointed to a lower open Thursday morning as falling technology shares and continued geopolitical tensions weighed on the main indexes.

Economic data on private-sector jobs and weekly layoffs came in slightly weaker than expected, though likely not weak enough to change the Federal Reserve's thinking about the pace of interest rate increases.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures dropped 70 points, or 0.3%, to 21,353.00, and S&P 500 futures gave up 9 points, or 0.4%, to 2,418. Nasdaq-100 futures fell 50 points, or 0.9%, to 5,602.

The drop in Nasdaq futures indicates that the previous day's rally in technology stocks (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-stock-futures-flutter-as-focus-turns-to-fed-jobs-report-2017-07-05) may lose steam. A 1% gain for tech shares helped the S&P 500 close 0.2% higher Wednesday, as the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index finished with a 0.7% rise. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended fractionally lower, down less than 0.1%.

"There are a lot of things keeping risk appetite in check," said Chris Beauchamp, senior market analyst at IG in London. "Geopolitical worries are beginning to bear down," on Wall Street and in Europe , where losses in regional benchmarks on Thursday accelerated, he said.

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"The rotation out of techs started and [investors] moved into financials. You've also got a broader move out of equities back to bonds to provide a safe haven, to some degree," as investors increasingly key in on risks including escalating tensions surrounding North Korea's test-launch this week of an intercontinental ballistic missile, Beauchamp said.

U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday in Warsaw that he's considering "some pretty severe things" in response to North Korea's (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-considering-pretty-severe-things-over-north-korea-threat-2017-07-06) ongoing efforts to develop nuclear weapons that can reach the U.S.

Read:U.S., Russia clash at U.N. over approach to North Korea threat (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-russia-clash-at-un-over-approach-to-north-korea-threat-2017-07-06)

"You've got a busy [Thursday] in terms of data...for ADP, ISM, and EIA [oil data], and then nonfarm payrolls tomorrow. So there's a lot that needs to be factored in in terms of the economic calendar, which was a bit distorted with Independence Day," said Beauchamp.

"The market is not getting too panicky just yet, but you're into that July, August, September period where we could see a bit of a grind," he added.

Economic docket: Private-sector employers added a seasonally-adjusted 153,000 jobs during the month, below the 180,000 jobs that a consensus of economists had forecast. Meanwhile, initial jobless claims in the period between June 25 and July 1 increased 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 248,000.

Economists use these numbers to get a feel for the official nonfarm payrolls due on Friday, with the consensus estimate at 179,000 new jobs created in June. The Federal Reserve closely watches labor-market conditions as part of its monetary policy assessment, and the report comes as investors continue to unpack the Fed minutes released Wednesday.

Those minutes left many uncertain as to policy makers' strategy for reducing the Fed's $4.5 billion in debt holdings (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fed-might-start-balance-sheet-drawdown-in-september-fomc-minutes-hint-2017-07-05), which has acted as support for the U.S. economy.

Separately, the trade deficit fell 2.3% to $46.5 billion in May from $47.6 billion in April, largely because of fewer imports of cellphones and other consumer goods, but the longer-run outlook for the U.S. was still grim.

A snapshot of activity in the services sector in June will come from Markit at 9:45 a.m. Eastern. At 10 a.m. Eastern, the ISM's services index will be released.

As for Fed speakers, Gov. Jerome Powell will discuss housing finance reform at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington at 10 a.m. Eastern. Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer will speak about government policy and labor productivity at 7:30 p.m. Eastern at Martha's Vineyard Hebrew Center Summer Institute in Vineyard Haven, Mass.

See: MarketWatch's economic calendar (http://www.marketwatch.com/economy-politics/calendars/economic).

Stocks in focus:General Electric Co. shares (GE) fell 1.3% premarket after the European Union's antitrust watchdog (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ge-canon-merck-kgaa-accused-of-antitrust-moves-2017-07-06) said GE may have misled regulators when the EU was reviewing its $1.65 billion deal with LM Wind Power.

Tesla Inc.(TSLA) fell 2.5% before the bell after the electric car maker's Model S failed to receive a top safety award (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/teslas-stock-drops-after-model-s-fails-to-qualify-for-top-safety-award-2017-07-06) from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Its shares tumbled on Wednesday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/teslas-stock-tumbles-into-correction-territory-but-analysts-sees-new-highs-ahead-2017-07-05) after a disappointing sales-delivery update.

L Brands Inc.(LB) shares tumbled 7.8% in light volume ahead of the bell as Victoria's Secret's parent company posted a 6% drop in June sales (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/victorias-secret-parent-l-brands-shares-fall-after-june-sales-decline-2017-07-06).

Shares of Costco Wholesale Corp.(COST) rose 2.7% ahead of the bell after the retailer reported better-than-expected sales numbers for June.

Other markets: The ICE Dollar Index , which measures the buck against a basket of six currencies, was down 0.3% at 96.04. Gold gained modestly to trade above $1,225 an ounce. Oil futures jumped more than 1% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-bounces-back-after-worst-loss-in-a-month-ahead-of-eia-data-2017-07-06).

Stock markets in Asia finished mostly lower, with the Nikkei Stock Average losing 0.4%.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 06, 2017 09:08 ET (13:08 GMT)