Stock Futures Jump as Traders Await Payroll Data

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Stock futures pointed sharply higher on Wednesday on the heels of a three-day winning streak on Wall Street as market participants awaited a report on private-sector payrolls. 

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As of 7:30 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures jumped 79 points to 11,571, S&P 500 futures gained 10 points to 1,214 and Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 17.8 points to 2,245. 

August has been a tumultuous month for the markets: the Dow has traded in a nearly 1,500 point range and has experienced sharp selloffs and rallies, often immediately following each other.  Despite soaring 3.7% in the last three days alone, the blue chips are still in the red by 4.8% for the month, and the broader S&P 500 remains down 6.1% for August.  

The state of the economy is a key concern among market participants as recent data have shown the global recovery has deteriorated considerably.  The monthly employment report, which is widely considered to be one the most important gauges of the economy, is slated for release on Friday.  The unemployment rate is forecast to stay above 9% in August, while the economy added roughly 93,000 jobs. 

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A private-sector payroll report from ADP is on tap for 8:15 a.m. ET on Wednesday.  It is expected that the private sector tacked on 100,000 jobs this month after adding 114,000 last month.  The ADP report is seen as a somewhat accurate predictor of the broader employment situation. 

Firms announced plans to layoff 51,114 employees in August, falling from a 16-month high of 66,414, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.  

Wall Street will also receive data on factory orders on Wednesday.  Factory orders are forecast to have jumped 2% in July after falling 0.8% in the prior month.  Shares of companies that make long-lasting goods such as General Electric (GE) and Boeing (BA) can be particularly affected by these data. 

The Federal Reserve is mulling new methods of stimulating the economy, minutes released on Tuesday revealed. The central bank already has a highly-expansionary monetary policy stance, keeping long-term interest rates at essentially 0%, and just ended a broad quantitative easing program called QE2 in June.  However, most Fed policymakers believe the economic outlook as deteriorated sufficiently to employ different methods to speed up the pace of expansion, the minutes showed. 

Market participants may see weak or upbeat data as positive developments: "Upbeat numbers suggest the U.S. isn’t as close to the precipice as some may think, whilst a shortfall adds weight for further rounds of" quantitative easing, Ben Critchley, Sales Trader at IG Index, wrote in a research note. 

Energy markets were mixed ahead of the weekly inventory report from the Energy Department, which can often have an impact.  

Light, sweet crude fell 90 cents, or 1%, to $88.00 a barrel.  Wholesale RBOB gasoline gained a penny, or 0.51%, to $3.01 a gallon. 

In currencies, the U.S. dollar slipped 0.06% against a basket of world currencies, while the greenback gained 0.01% against the greenback. 

Gasoline prices at the pump ticked higher overnight, and have been on an uptrend over the past week.  A gallon of regular costs $3.62 on average nationwide, down from $3.71 last month, but well higher than the $2.68 drivers paid last year. 

Foreign Markets

The English FTSE 100 rose 0.84% to 5,313, the French CAC 40 jumped 1.5% to 3,207 and the German DAX gained 1.2% to 5,713. 

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 edged higher by 0.01% to 8,955 and the Chinese Hang Seng leaped 1.6% to 20,535. 

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