Following the lackluster performance seen in the previous session, stocks may continue to show a lack of direction in early trading on Friday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a roughly flat open for the markets, with the S&P 500 futures down by less than a tenth of a percent.
The futures have fluctuated following the release of a closely watched Labor Department report showing employment in the U.S. increased by less than expected in the month of July.
The report said non-farm payroll employment climbed by 187,000 jobs in July after rising by a downwardly revised by 185,000 jobs in June.
Economists had expected employment to jump by 200,000 jobs compared to the addition of 209,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the unemployment rate edged down to 3.5 percent in July from 3.6 percent in June. Economists had expected the unemployment rate to remain unchanged.
The Labor Department also said average hourly employee earnings increased by $0.14 or 0.4 percent to $33.74 in July.
Annual wage growth came in at 4.4 percent in July, unchanged from June. Economists had expected the pace of growth to slow to 4.2 percent.
A mixed reaction to earnings news from tech giants Amazon (AMZN) and Apple (AAPL) may also contribute to choppy trading on Wall Street.
Shares of Amazon are moving sharply higher in pre-market trading after the online retail giant reported better than expected second quarter and provided upbeat revenue guidance for the current quarter.
On the other hand, shares of Apple are seeing notable pre-market weakness after the company reported fiscal third quarter earnings that beat analyst estimates but a continued decrease in revenues.
After an early move to the downside, stocks fluctuated over the course of the trading session on Thursday. The major averages bounced back and forth across the unchanged line before closing modestly lower.
The Dow slipped 66.63 points or 0.2 percent to 35,215.89, the Nasdaq edged down 13.73 points or 0.1 percent to 13,959.72 and the S&P 500 dipped 11.50 points or 0.3 percent to 4,501.89.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index inched up by 0.1 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed by 0.6 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets are turning in a mixed performance on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.1 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index are both down by 0.4 percent.
In commodities trading, crude oil futures are rising $0.19 to $81.74 a barrel after surging $2.06 to $81.55 a barrel on Thursday. Meanwhile, after slipping $6.20 to $1,968.80 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are inching up $1.60 to $1,970.40 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 142.30 yen versus the 142.58 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Thursday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.0981 compared to yesterday’s $1.0949.
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