U.S. Stock Futures Tick Up Ahead of Jobs Report

07/02/2020 | 08:28am

By Caitlin Ostroff

U.S. stock futures edged higher Thursday ahead of June employment figures that will offer insights into the health of the American labor market as coronavirus lockdown-measures eased.

Futures tied to the S&P 500 rose 0.8%, indicating that stocks could rise after the New York opening bell. The gauge ticked up 0.5% on Wednesday after another key indicator showed that the nonfarm private sector created 2.4 million jobs in June.

The pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 gained 1.2%, while most major Asian equity benchmarks ended the day higher.

Signs of the U.S. economy's revival have bolstered optimism among some investors that the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic could be quickly erased. That, combined with speculation that the Federal Reserve and the government will continue funneling large amounts of money to American businesses and households, is propelling stocks higher.

"In my mind, this is the beginning of a new bull market," said Patrick Spencer, managing director of U.S. investment firm Baird. "Aggressive fiscal and monetary stimulus is going to continue and that's going to support the market, and recent economic data suggests a recovery is starting to emerge."

The latest jobs report is likely to show that millions of lost positions were regained in June, though the rise in coronavirus infections in several states could be hampering the labor market's recovery. The survey data, due at 8:30 a.m. ET, are largely collected in mid-June and won't reflect recent government-mandated business closures and related layoffs over the past two weeks as some states in the South and West reversed or paused reopening plans.

"Everybody is obviously watching the changes in the American labor market," said Florian Hense, an economist at Berenberg Bank. "The U.S. consumer is the most important driver of the global economy."

Weekly unemployment claims data, also due at 8:30 a.m., could offer a more up-to-date view on the U.S. labor market. The number of applications for jobless benefits filed every week has come down from a peak of nearly 7 million in late March, but has stabilized near a historically high 1.5 million, an indication that companies are continuing to cut jobs.

While economic data may continue to signal recovery in the short term, the revival is likely to slow, and even sputter, as businesses navigate their way through new or remaining restrictions on social and economic activity, investors said. American consumers could also continue to avoid restaurants and entertainment venues because of the infection risk or concerns about their paychecks even after state and local authorities ease restrictions, which would dampen the pace of the economic revival.

"There are huge questions over whether the recovery will continue at this pace over the coming months" on nonfarm payrolls, said Andrew Hunter, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics. "Employment is pretty key for consumer spending."

The surge in coronavirus cases in some states prompted Apple to close 16 locations in Florida, Mississippi, Texas and Utah, with plans to shut down 30 more locations by Thursday. McDonald's is also pausing the reopening of dine-in service in the U.S.

Shares in Tesla rose 9.7% premarket after the electric car maker said Thursday it produced over 82,000 vehicles and delivered approximately 90,650 vehicles in the second quarter.

In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index closed up 2.9%, while the Shanghai Composite Index gained 2.1%.

In bond markets, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note was unchanged from Wednesday at 0.682%. U.S. bond markets will close at 2 p.m. ET ahead of the Independence Day holiday.

Write to Caitlin Ostroff at caitlin.ostroff@wsj.com

 

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