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Stock futures declined Friday morning as investors absorbed a July jobs report that narrowly beat expectations, and momentarily tempered fears about a recovery losing momentum as the coronavirus outbreak strengthens its hold on the world.
Rounding out the economic data calendar for this week, the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report offered a fuller picture of the state of the US economy last month. Employers added 1.8 million non-farm payrolls during the month, beating consensus expectations for 1.48 million new positions in July and down from the record 4.8 million added during June.
Debates in Washington, D.C., over another round of virus-related relief measures are set to continue, with lawmakers signaling they will be unlikely to hit their previous self-imposed deadline of hashing out a deal by the end of this week.
Earlier on Thursday, stocks ended higher for a fifth straight session as equities continued their seemingly interminable march higher. The Nasdaq Composite ended at a record high, closing above more than 11,000 for the first time ever, as shares of Facebook (FB), Apple (AAPL) and Amazon (AMZN) closed at records. The S&P 500 ended just 1.1% below its record closing high from February 19.
The rally came amid better than expected data on the US labor market, with new jobless claims shown to have remained historically elevated, but improved to a pandemic-era low of 1.19 million last week.
“On balance, we expect the July employment report performance to be positive, extending improvement in the US labor market,” Sam Bullard, senior economist for Wells Fargo corporate and investment banking, wrote in a note Thursday. “That said, questions around the strength and duration of the economic rebound are increasing given the recent upswing in new virus cases in the South and Sunbelt states. This has intensified the uncertainty about whether state and local economies can continue to recover, keeping the markets’ focus squarely on the dashboard of labor market indicators.”
Elsewhere in markets, gold climbed further above $2,000 per ounce as investors still sought out safe haven assets but fretted over low-yielding Treasuries.
On the earnings front, Uber (UBER) on Thursday reported its first-ever year over year decline in revenue as the coronavirus pandemic wiped out demand for rides. Gross bookings in the company’s food delivery business more than doubled to overtake bookings in its ride-hailing business for the first time. However, the recently public company reaffirmed that it expected to hit adjusted EBITDA profitability in 2021. Shares of Uber were lower in late trading.
8:30 a.m. ET: July jobs data surprises to the upside
Chalk one up to the resilience of the U.S. economy: July payrolls data showed nearly 1.8 million jobs were created last month, ahead of Wall Street’s consensus forecasts and defying a wide berth of economist estimates. The unemployment rate also fell to 10.2%, bolstered by what the Labor Department said was a reflection of “continued resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed” due to lockdowns.
Stock futures are paring losses as traders absorb the data, but are still lower after Thursday’s rally.
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