Wall Street was set to fall more than 1 percent at open on Friday after a weaker-than-expected labor market report cast doubt about the pace of an economic recovery.
The U.S. Labor Department said employers cut 263,000 jobs in September, far more than the 180,000 job losses forecast in a Reuters survey. The jobless rate in the world's largest economy also rose to a 26-year high in September of 9.8 percent, as forecast.
Those numbers reflect a variety of pressures on the economy, said Kevin Caron, market strategist at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co in Florham Park, New Jersey. We saw a lot of artificial involvement by the government to prop up the markets, and now that that is starting to end the private sector isn't yet showing signs of life.
Signs of a weak recovery also came from the chairman of Wal-Mart Stores Inc
Investors will seek further clues on the health of the economy from the U.S. Commerce Department's August factory orders at 10:00 a.m. EDT. Economists in a Reuters poll see orders rising 0.3 percent from a 1.3 percent increase the prior month.
Energy shares will likely be pressured as U.S. crude oil futures dropped 2.5 percent on diminished demand outlook after the jobs data.
S&P 500 futures were off 14.70 points and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures lost 127 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures were down 20.50 points.
Stocks in the spotlight included General Electric Co
GE, a Dow component, was off 3 percent to $15.49 in premarket trading.
CIT Group Inc
Automakers were also in focus a day after they reported a 23 percent fall in September U.S. auto sales, as showrooms emptied after the government-funded cash for clunkers program.
Global stock markets were lower ahead of the U.S. jobs data and some continued to fall. European shares sank more than 2 percent and Japan's Nikkei average slid 2.5 percent to a two-month closing low.
(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)