MARKET SNAPSHOT: Dow Aims For Fresh Record As Stock Futures Climb Ahead Of U.S. Jobs Report

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

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U.S. stocks were shaping up for an upbeat open on Wall Street Friday, with the Dow average headed for a fresh all-time high.

Stock futures rose as traders looked ahead to the closely watched nonfarm payrolls report, which could further strengthen the case for a December interest rate rise by the Federal Reserve.

Technology companies were among the biggest movers premarket, with Apple shares leading the charge higher after its well-received earnings report and as the iPhone X went on sale.

What are stock-index futures doing?

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 25 points, or 0.1%, to 23,469, on track to build from gains on Thursday when the benchmark scored its 55th record close of 2017 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-stocks-on-track-to-pull-back-with-tax-bill-on-deck-2017-11-02).

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Futures for the S&P 500 index added 1.30 points, or 0.1%, to 2,578.25, while those for the Nasdaq-100 index jumped 18.25 points, or 0.3%, to 6,254.

The S&P 500 closed marginally higher and just shy of its all-time closing high on Thursday, while the Nasdaq Composite Index ended slightly lower.

As of Thursday's close, the Dow average and Nasdaq were set for weekly gains of 0.4% and 0.2%, respectively, while the S&P was eyeing a 0.1% loss for the week.

What's driving the market?

Investors were Friday absorbing a busy week on the financial markets, which included a raft of high-profile earnings. Thursday alone saw the release of details on the long-awaited Republican tax reform (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-a-breakdown-of-how-the-new-house-tax-bill-impacts-business-taxes-2017-11-02), President Donald Trump's nomination of Fed Gov. Jerome Powell (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/text-of-powells-statement-on-being-named-fed-chairman-nominee-2017-11-02) as the next head of the U.S. central bank, and the Bank of England raise of interest rates (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/5-key-carney-quotes-after-boe-hikes-rates-for-first-time-in-a-decade-2017-11-02) for the first time in a decade.

Read:Here's a breakdown of how the new House tax bill impacts your taxes (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-a-breakdown-of-how-the-new-house-tax-bill-impacts-your-taxes-2017-11-02)

The top billing on Friday was the monthly U.S. jobs report, which is expected to show a sharp rebound in nonfarm payrolls after the hurricane-distorted data from September.

Analysts polled by MarketWatch expect 325,000 new jobs were added to the U.S. economy in October. That compares with a loss of 33,000 jobs in September, when Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey destroyed large parts of areas along the Texas, Louisiana and Florida coastlines.

The health of the U.S. labor market is one of the key measures for the Fed in determining the path for interest rates, so an upbeat number could further add to expectations a rate rise is coming in December. The market is currently pricing in a 98.2% probability of a rate hike next month, according to the CME FedWatch Tool.

Read:Get ready for a huge jump in October payrolls (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/get-ready-for-a-huge-jump-in-october-payrolls-2017-11-02)

What are strategists saying?

"The U.S. jobs report is widely regarded as the most important economic report each month and yet, in a week that's been packed full of other major announcements, it's not attracted the same kind of attention it usually would. Still, with the Fed now poised to raise interest rates again in December, having passed up the opportunity to earlier this week, focus will be on the jobs data for signs of weakness," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda, in a note.

"Traders were pleased to see that the U.S. president has selected a policy maker who is in favor of more tightening going forward, which should be a positive driver for the dollar in the long term. Markets think Powell will continue Janet Yellen's measured approach to monetary policy adjustment," said Konstantinos Anthis, researcher at ADS Securities.

The dollar rose on Friday against all other major currencies, with the ICE Dollar Index up 0.2% at 94.827.

Which stocks are in focus?

Shares of Apple Inc.(AAPL) climbed 3.3% ahead of the bell, closing in on a $900 billion valuation (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/apple-has-900-billion-valuation-in-sight-as-earnings-allay-iphone-fears-2017-11-02). The gain came after the iPhone maker late Thursday reported earnings that easily beat estimates (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/apple-has-900-billion-valuation-in-sight-as-earnings-allay-iphone-fears-2017-11-02).

Shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc.(VRX.T) jumped 6.7% in premarket action after the drug maker late Thursday said the Food and Drug Administration has approved the company's Vyzulta drug.

Pandora Media Inc.(P) shares slumped 12% premarket after the music-streaming company late Thursday said its loss widened in the third quarter (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/pandora-shares-fall-after-revenue-miss-2017-11-02).

Starbucks Corp.(SBUX) shares lost 3.9% before the open after the coffee chain's sales number out late Thursday missed Wall Street forecasts (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/starbucks-shares-down-5-after-revenue-miss-company-to-sell-tazo-brand-2017-11-02). The company also said it has agreed to sell its Tazo tea brand to Unilever (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/unilevers-tazo-deal-targets-upscale-tea-drinkers-2017-11-02).

Sotheby's(BID) is expected to report earnings before the market opens on Friday.

What's happening in economic data?

The jobs report, due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, is the main data on the economic calendar on Friday, but there are other releases also worth watching.

At 8:30 a.m. Eastern, the trade deficit for September is due, followed by the Markit services purchasing managers' index for October at 9:45 a.m. Eastern.

The ISM nonmanufacturing index for October is slated for release at 10 a.m. Eastern, while factory orders data for September are expected at the same time.

At noon Eastern, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari is scheduled to give a speech on monetary policy and the 2018 outlook at a Women in Housing and Finance luncheon in Washington D.C.

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

What are other markets doing?

Oil prices continued higher, with crude oil up 0.6% at $54.96 a barrel and on track for a fourth straight week of gains.

Metals were mixed, and gold dropped 0.2% to $1,275.60 an ounce.

Asian markets closed mixed (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/australia-stocks-near-10-year-high-as-asia-pacific-markers-gain-2017-11-02), with Japan's exchanges closed for the Culture Day holiday. Stocks in Europe rose, setting the benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 index on track for at 0.5% weekly gain.

Bitcoin is up 5.1% at $7,388.52 for a fresh all-time high. The cryptocurrency broke above $7,300 Thursday.

See:Bitcoin may be staging the biggest challenge yet to gold and silver (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bitcoin-may-be-staging-the-biggest-challenge-yet-to-gold-and-silver-2017-11-02)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 03, 2017 06:13 ET (10:13 GMT)