Stocks – US Futures Higher Ahead of Employment Report

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Investing.com – U.S. stocks are set to open higher Friday, continuing the recent bullish rally ahead of the release of the official monthly employment report.

At 7 AM ET (1100 GMT), S&P 500 Futures traded 24 points, or 0.8%, higher, Nasdaq Futures up 32 points, or 0.3%. The Dow Futures contract rose 307 points, or 1.2%. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average cash index posted its highest close Thursday since March 4, and is on a four-day winning streak. The S&P 500 index recorded its first down day in five on Thursday, while the Nasdaq 100 index notched up an intraday record high. The Nasdaq Composite, which is more closely watched than the Nasdaq 100, is just about 2% below its own record high, 

Stimulus measures to limit the economic damage from closures in the wake of the coronavirus-inspired social distancing measures have helped to support stock prices since the lows in March. The U.S. government has injected some $3 trillion in stimulus into the economy, while the Federal Reserve has drastically increased its balance sheet.

This positive tone could be tested by the release of the official employment report for May, at 8:30 AM ET (12:30 GMT). 

While Thursday’s weekly initial jobless claims release showed a continuing reduction of people claiming unemployment benefits for the first time, the continuing claims figure actually rose.

The unemployment rate for May is projected to rise to 19.8%, approaching levels last seen during the Great Depression, from 14.7% in April, while nonfarm payrolls are estimated to have dropped another 8 million in the month. 

In corporate news, Gap (NYSE:GPS) will be in the spotlight after the retailer reported a $1.2 billion operating loss during its first quarter as a result of store closures and lost sales during the coronavirus pandemic. Stock dropped 4% premarket.

Slack Technologies (NYSE:WORK) dropped over 12% after the messaging service said it had failed to register any acceleration in revenue growth in the last three months, despite the boom in remote working that has been a godsend to providers of collaborative technology.

Oil prices headed higher Friday, with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries set to meet over the weekend to discuss an extension of production cuts.

U.S. crude prices rose 2.4% to $38.30 a barrel, while Brent Futures climbed 3.1% to $41.22.

Elsewhere, gold futures fell 1.1% to $1,708.70/oz, while EUR/USD traded at 1.1332 just off the three-month high that it hit overnight.

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