Stocks May See Initial Strength On Upbeat Jobs Data - U.S. Commentary

(RTTNews) - Following the mixed performance seen in the previous session, stocks are likely to move to the upside in early trading on Friday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a higher open for the markets, with the Dow futures up by 86 points.

Early buying interest is likely to be generated in reaction to a report from the Labor Department showing a significant reacceleration in the pace of U.S. job growth in the month of March.

The Labor Department said non-farm payroll employment jumped by 196,000 jobs in March after edging up by a revised 33,000 jobs in February.

Economists had expected employment to increase by about 180,000 jobs compared to the uptick of 20,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

Despite the stronger than expected job growth, the unemployment rate held at 3.8 percent in March, unchanged from February and in line with economist estimates.

The data suggests the substantial slowdown in February was a temporary blip and may ease recent concerns about the economic outlook.

Traders are also likely to react positively to continued indications of progress in U.S.-China trade talks after the latest round of high-level negotiations.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He said the two sides have conducted fruitful consultations in the past two days, especially on important issues such as the text of economic and trade agreements.

Late in the trading day, the Federal Reserve is scheduled to release its report on consumer credit in the month of February. Consumer credit is expected to increase by $17.0 billion.

Stocks turned in a relatively lackluster performance during trading on Thursday, with the major averages ending the day on opposite sides of the unchanged line. Despite the choppy trading, the Dow and the S&P 500 reached their best closing levels in nearly six months.

The Dow climbed 166.50 points or 0.6 percent to 26,384.63 and the S&P 500 rose 5.99 points or 0.2 percent to 2,879.39, while the Nasdaq edged down 3.77 points or 0.1 percent to 7,891.78.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index rose by 0.4 percent, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index slumped by 0.8 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets are seeing modest strength on the day. While the German DAX Index has inched up by 0.1 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index are both up by 0.3 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are rising $0.18 to $62.28 a barrel after falling $0.36 to $62.10 on Thursday. Meanwhile, after edging down $1 to $1,294.30 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are sliding $4.80 to $1,289.50 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 111.75 yen compared to the 111.66 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Thursday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.1227 compared to yesterday's $1.1221.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.