Stock futures are flat ahead of key unemployment report – CNBC

U.S. stock index futures were little changed during overnight trading on Thursday, ahead of Friday’s highly anticipated jobs report.

Futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 24 points. S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq 100 futures were flat.

Stocks finished Thursday’s session in the green, with the S&P 500 rising 0.6% to close at a new record. The Dow gained 271.58 points, or 0.78%. The Nasdaq Composite also advanced 0.78% for its fourth straight positive session.

All eyes are on Friday’s jobs report, which will show how the labor marked fared during July. Economists expect the economy to have added 845,000 jobs last month, according to estimates from Dow Jones. However the broad range of targets — from 350,000 on the low end to 1.2 million at the top — show the uncertainty that’s currently in the market.

Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial Network, noted that the monthly readings this year have ranged from 233,000 in January to 850,000 in June. He said a print below 300,000 could be a cause for concern, while a reading between 300,000 and 400,000 would show a “reasonably healthy” economy.

“A better result would be in line with the average for the second quarter, or around 500,000 to 600,000. This would show that the recovery continues and that while the medical and labor issues are preventing further acceleration, the economy still has enough momentum to keep moving forward at a reasonable rate,” he said.

Friday’s report comes after the weekly initial claims number reported on Thursday came in at 385,000, which was in-line with expectations.

Wall Street is closely watching Friday’s jobs report given its potential to impact the Federal Reserve’s policy going forward.

“While uncertainty over monetary policy is likely to cause further bouts of volatility, we believe the Fed’s move toward tapering is unlikely to prompt a reversal of the equity rally,” noted strategists at UBS.

“Labor market slack, well anchored inflation expectations, and risks from the delta COVID-19 variant make interest rate increases before 2023 unlikely,” the firm added.

A busy week of earnings continues on Friday with several notable reports, including from Canopy Growth, AMC Networks, Draftkings, Norwegian Cruise Line and Goodyear Tire. Additionally, Berkshire Hathaway is on deck for Saturday morning.

Through Thursday afternoon 427 S&P 500 components have posted quarterly results, with 88% topping earnings estimates, according to data from Refinitiv. When it comes to revenue, 87% have exceeded expectations.

For the week, the Dow is up 0.4%. The S&P and Nasdaq are up 0.77% and 1.5%, respectively.

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