Fewer jobs were added in December than expected, but report shouldn't change Fed policy timeline
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U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a higher open on Friday, suggesting major indexes would hit another round of records and close out the first week of the year with four straight days of gains.
The December jobs report was the primary driver behind trading, and while the data showed fewer jobs created last month than had been expected, it wasn't seen as so weak as to change the generally improving trend of the labor market.
What are stock futures doing?
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 83 points, or 0.3% to 25,136, while those for the S&P 500 index climbed 7.70 points, or 0.3%, to 2,731.50. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 index gained 23.75 points, or 0.4%, to 6,627.25.
All three benchmarks scored record closing highs on Thursday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dow-on-track-for-25000-milestone-as-global-stock-rally-stays-strong-2018-01-04), with the Dow average ending above the 25,000 handle for the first time ever after logging a 0.6% gain. The S&P 500 rose 0.4%, and the Nasdaq Composite Index closed 0.2% higher.
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The S&P 500 has now closed at a record on the first three trading days of the new year, the first time it has done so since 1964 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-sp-500-is-poised-to-do-something-it-hasnt-done-since-1964-2018-01-04), according to WSJ Market Data Group.
For the week, the indexes were set for gains between 1.4% and 2.5% as of Thursday's close.
What's driving the market?
The gains over the week have been buoyed by the recently passed corporate tax-cut package in the U.S., rising commodity prices, and robust corporate earnings. Solid economic data and low bond yields have also been cited as contributing factors.
What the data are saying?
The U.S. created 148,000 jobs in December (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-adds-148000-jobs-in-december-unemployment-flat-at-41-2018-01-05). This was the slowest pace in three months, and below the 198,000 increase that economists polled by MarketWatch had predicted. The unemployment rate remained steady at 4.1% for the third straight month. Worker pay increased 2.5% from December 2016 to December 2017, up from 2.4% in the prior month.
Separately, the U.S. trade deficit widened 3.2% in November (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-trade-deficit-swells-to-largest-since-january-2012-2018-01-05) to $50.5 billion, the highest trade gap since January 2012. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a $50 billion gap.
In other economic news on Friday, the ISM nonmanufacturing report for December and an update on factory orders for November are scheduled for 10 a.m. Eastern.
Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker is slated to give a speech on the economic outlook at the American Economic Association at 10:15 a.m. Eastern in Philadelphia.
Fed President Loretta Mester is expected to speak on a panel about "coordinating conventional and unconventional monetary policy for macroeconomic stability" at 12:30 p.m. in Cleveland.
What are strategist saying?
The jobs report "is a market-friendly number, in that it is good but not overheated. Investors should interpret this as Fed-friendly, in that the central bank will remain interested in the economy but not get overly aggressive in raising rates in 2018," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.
"While it came in below expectations, it wasn't sufficiently weak for investors to feel they should sell. Single months of data can be lumpy, but the average over the past few months shows that the labor market remains strong."
Which stocks are in focus?
Apple Inc.(AAPL) shares were marginally higher in Friday's premarket trade. The technology published information late Thursday that confirmed that all devices (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/apple-admits-its-devices-are-affected-by-meltdown-and-spectre-chip-bugs-2018-01-04) running its mobile and personal-computer operating systems are affected by two massive computer chip vulnerabilities (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/meltdown-and-spectre-are-huge-vulnerabilities-for-intel-and-more-what-you-need-to-know-2018-01-03).
Spirits and beer company Constellation Brands Inc.(STZ) is slated to report earnings ahead of the bell.
U.S.-listed shares of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV(FCA.MI) gained 2.4% premarket after J.P. Morgan lifted the car maker to overweight from neutral.
Shares of Cal-Maine Foods Inc.(CALM) dropped 4.6% ahead of the open after the company missed earnings estimates for its fiscal second quarter (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/cal-maine-shares-slide-almost-5-premarket-after-earnings-fall-short-of-estimates-2018-01-05).
AveXis Inc.(AVXS) fell 4.5% premarket. The gene-therapy company said late Thursday it was preparing to respond to Food and Drug Administration information requests about AveXis's primary gene therapy, which would be used to treat a form of spinal muscular atrophy.
Cellect Biotechnology Ltd.(APOP) jumped 38% in heavy premarket trading a day after announcing "breakthrough" results in a clinical trial (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/cellect-stock-rockets-50-on-breakthrough-trial-announcement-but-results-are-for-just-three-patients-2018-01-04), although the results were for just three patients
What are other markets doing?
Asian stock markets continued to power higher (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/asian-markets-continue-soaring-to-new-highs-but-show-signs-of-cooling-2018-01-04), with Japan's Nikkei 225 index ending at a 26-year high.
It was a similar story in Europe (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-rise-for-3rd-day-as-global-rally-stays-strong-2018-01-05), where the Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 0.6%.
The dollar was higher after the data (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dollar-rebounds-as-traders-look-to-jobs-data-for-inflation-hints-2018-01-05), with the ICE dollar index up 0.2% at 92.051.
Crude-oil prices dropped 0.9% to $61.41 a barrel, while gold futures slipped 0.2% to $1,318.40 an ounce.
In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin futures jumped 7.2% to $15,970. Bitcoin itself rose 4.8% to $15,876.43 on Coindesk.com, while Ripple coins fell 12% to $3.26, according to CoinMarketcap.com. Ripple coins started to retreat after a series of records Thursday night after Coinbase said it isn't adding the currency to its exchange at this point.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 05, 2018 08:54 ET (13:54 GMT)