U.S. Stock Futures Pause Ahead of Jobs Data

U.S. stock futures were little changed ahead of monthly jobs figures that are expected to signal a rebounding economy.

S&P 500 futures traded broadly flat and futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average traded flat. Changes in futures don't necessarily predict movements after the markets open.

In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 added 0.6% in morning trade, and it is at its highest level in a year. Consumer staples and information technology sectors led gains while the real-estate sector lost ground.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.4%. Other stock indexes in Europe also mostly climbed as France's CAC 40 climbed 0.4%, the U.K.'s FTSE 250 gained 0.6% and Germany's DAX added 1%.

The euro and the British pound gained 0.1% and 0.2% respectively against the U.S. dollar and the Swiss franc was mostly flat against the U.S. dollar, with 1 franc buying $1.10.

In commodities, Brent crude was up 0.3% to $68.27 a barrel. Gold also strengthened 0.3% to $1,820.40 a troy ounce.

The German 10-year bund yield fell to minus 0.221% and the yield on 10-year U.K. government debt known as gilts slipped to 0.792%. The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury strengthened to 1.574% from 1.561% on Thursday. Yields move inversely to prices.

Stocks in Asia were mixed as Hong Kong's Hang Seng was flat after increasing 0.8% earlier and Japan's Nikkei 225 index traded broadly flat and gained 0.1%, whereas China's benchmark Shanghai Composite was lower 0.7%.

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U.S. stock futures wavered Friday ahead of fresh jobs data that is expected to show a strong recovery in the labor market following last year's downturn.

Futures tied to the S&P 500 ticked up less than 0.1%, a day after the broad-market index closed near its all-time high. Nasdaq-100 futures edged 0.2% higher, suggesting muted gains in technology stocks. Futures linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average held steady after the blue-chips index notched a closing record Thursday.

Stocks are poised for a second week of muted gains, with sentiment bolstered by signs of a strengthening economy and Federal Reserve officials reiterated pledges to refrain from tightening monetary policy until the labor market is recovered. Energy producers, banks and other firms that would benefit from the economy reopening have rallied this week, while technology firms have been among the poorest performers.

"This week was really still a combination of the post-Covid recovery and how interest-rate policy will respond," said Kiran Ganesh, a multiasset strategist at UBS Global Wealth Management. "The performance of some cyclical stocks and commodities suggests that this reopening trade is still on track."

Data to be released at 8:30 a.m. ET is likely to show that employers added jobs at a robust pace for the second straight month in April, signaling a speedy economic recovery. Economists expect payrolls grew by one million in April after rising by 916,000 in March. They project the unemployment rate fell to 5.8%, down from 6% in March and a record- high 14.8% last April when the pandemic struck.

Investors are "trying to gauge the extent to which policy makers are going to keep monetary stimulus in place and whether we're tipping over into the stage where good economic data starts to be a problem for financial markets because it brings forward the time the central banks start very tentatively tightening policy," said Sebastian Mackay, a multiasset fund manager at Invesco. "I think we're getting there."

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged up to 1.565%, from 1.561% on Thursday, steadying after five consecutive days of declines.

Earnings season continues, with self-driving truck company Nikola among those reporting Friday.

"We're still in a cyclical upswing, which should drive equities higher on average," Mr. Mackay said. "On average, most of the earnings numbers have been at or above expectations. It is about delivery of those expectations of earnings needed to sustain equities."

In commodities, copper prices surpassed their 2011 highs and were on course to close at a record, fueled by bets on the global economic rebound and on rising demand from efforts to decarbonize the power and transportation sectors. Three-month copper forwards rose 1.2% to $10,232 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange. In New York, copper futures on CME Group's Comex rose 1.2% to $4.66 a pound.

Overseas, the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 climbed 0.4%. Among European equities, Adidas jumped over 7% after reporting quarterly revenue that beat analysts' expectations.

The Shanghai Composite Index pulled back 0.7% by the close of trading, and Japan's Nikkei 225 advanced 0.1%.

Write to Anna Hirtenstein at anna.hirtenstein@wsj.com


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  05-07-21 0352ET
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