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Upbeat Jobs Data May Lead to Strength on Wall Street

The major US index futures are pointing to a higher opening on Friday following the significant weakness seen in the previous session. The upward momentum on Wall Street comes following the release of a report from the Labor Department showing much stronger than expected job growth in the month of June.

Following the lackluster performance seen on Wednesday, stocks saw considerable weakness during trading on Thursday. With the drop on the day, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 fell to their lowest closing levels in over a month.

The major averages ended the day firmly in negative territory. The Dow slid 158.13 points or 0.7 percent to 21,320.04, the Nasdaq tumbled 61.39 points or 1 percent to 6,089.46 and the S&P 500 slumped 22.79 points or 0.9 percent to 2,409.75.

The weakness on Wall Street came following the release of a report from payroll processor ADP showing weaker than expected private sector job growth in the month of June.

ADP said private sector employment climbed by 158,000 jobs in June after jumping by a revised 230,000 jobs in May.

Economists had expected an increase of about 185,000 jobs compared to the addition of 253,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

Meanwhile, the Institute for Supply Management released a report showing an unexpected acceleration in the pace of growth in the service sector in the month of June.

The ISM said its non-manufacturing index rose to 57.4 in June from 56.9 in May, with a reading above 50 indicating growth in the service sector. Economists had expected the index to edge down to 56.5.

A separate report from the Labor Department showed an uptick in first-time claims for unemployment benefits in the week ended July 1st.

The report said initial jobless claims edged up to 248,000, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 244,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to dip to 243,000.

With exports rising and imports falling, the Commerce Department released a report showing that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed in the month of May.

The Commerce Department said the trade deficit narrowed to $46.5 billion in May from $47.6 billion in April. Economists had expected the deficit to narrow to $46.2 billion.

Computer hardware showed a substantial move to the downside on the day, dragging the NYSE Arca Computer Hardware Index down by 2.4 percent. The index ended the session at its lowest closing level in almost two months.

Seagate Technology (STX), NetApp (NTAP) and HP Inc. (HPQ) turned in some of the hardware sector’s worst performances.

Significant weakness was also visible among biotechnology stocks, as reflected by the 2.1 percent drop by the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index. Egalet (EGLT) posted a particularly steep loss.

Oil service, commercial real estate and telecom stocks also saw notable weakness, moving lower along with most of the other major sectors.

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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