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Post: Market Snapshot: U.S. stock futures hold ground after March jobs data

U.S. stock index futures pointed to modest gains for Wall Street early Thursday as investors sifted through data showing a slightly smaller-than-expected rise in nonfarm payrolls in March and a further drop in the unemployment rate.

How are stock-index futures trading?
  • S&P 500 futures
    ES00,
    +0.34%

    rose were up 13 points, or 0.3%, at 4,543.75.

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average futures
    YM00,
    +0.39%

    rose 117 points, or 0.3%, to 34,735.

  • Nasdaq-100 futures
    NQ00,
    +0.27%

    gained 37.25 points, or 0.3%, to 14,906.

On Thursday, the Dow
DJIA,
+0.24%

tumbled 550.46 points, for a 1.6% decline. The S&P 500
SPX,
+0.28%

saw a similar fall, while the Nasdaq Composite
COMP,
+0.37%

fell 1.5%.

For the quarter, all three benchmarks logged the biggest percentage drops declines since the first quarter of 2020 — 4.6%, 4.9% and 9.1%, respectively.

Read: A dozen S&P 500 stocks just had their worst quarter ever, as tech stocks sloughed off nearly $2 trillion in value

What’s driving the markets?

U.S. stocks were set to shake off the worst quarter in two years with gains on Friday, as investors parsed March jobs figures.

The U.S. created a healthy 431,000 jobs in March and the unemployment rate fell to 3.6% from 3.8%. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal are forecasting a total payroll gain of 490,000 jobs in March, and a drop in the unemployment rate to 3.7% from 3.8%.

“Aside from the modest miss on the headline (which is offset by the upward revision), there aren’t many spots to poke holes here. The data is solid, if unspectacular,” said Thomas Simons, money-market economist at Jefferies, in a note.

“We do not think this moves the needle for the Fed at all, as nothing here argues against a 50 [basis point] rate hike at the next meeting,” he wrote.

Treasury yields rose, with the yield on the 2-year note moving back above the 10-year rate, inverting that measure of the yield curve. That measure inverted briefly earlier this week. A sustained inversion is viewed by many economists and market watchers as a reliable recession warning sign, albeit with a lag of up to a year or more.

Other U.S. data on tap Friday include the Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index and construction spending, both for March, which are due at 10 a.m. Investors will also hear from Chicago Federal Reserve President Charles Evans Friday morning.

Investors also kept close watch on the war in Ukraine, with negotiators from both sides expected to hold negotiations via videoconference on Friday. Russia blocked a humanitarian aid convoy from reaching embattled Mariupol, as eastern Ukraine braced for more attacks.

What companies are in focus?

Read: AMC, GME and meme stocks are back in the spotlight — How will professional traders handle it this time around?

How are other assets trading?
  • The ICE U.S. Dollar Index 
    DXY,
    +0.34%
    ,
     a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, was up 0.1% on Friday.

  • In gold futures , gold for June delivery
    GCM22,
    -1.21%

     fell 1% to $1,933 an ounce.

  • Bitcoin 
    BTCUSD,
    -0.49%

     was down 4% to $45,006.

  • In European equities, the Stoxx Europe 600 
    SXXP,
    +0.59%

    rose 0.6%, and London’s FTSE 100 
    UKX,
    +0.16%

    rose 0.2%.

  • The Shanghai Composite
    SHCOMP,
    +0.94%

    rose 0.9%, while the Hang Seng Index 
    HSI,
    +0.19%

    rose 0.1% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 
    NIK,
    -0.56%

    lost 0.5%.

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