U.S. stock futures point to a mostly flat open on Friday, as investors will look to the unemployment report, nonfarm payroll data, and trend reports on consumption and spending, for hints about the future of the U.S. Federal Reserve's massive bond-buying program and its ultra-loose monetary policy.
Yet another round of corporate earnings reports from major U.S. companies such as Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A), Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) and Host Hotels and Resorts Inc (NYSE:HST) also could impact the day's trades.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.08 percent, while futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were up 0.05 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were up 0.27 percent.
The government's monthly nonfarm payroll report and the unemployment figure will be released at 8:30 a.m. EDT on Friday, and will provide clues to the sustainability of the country's economic recovery and the pace of job creation in the country.
Economists predict the nonfarm payroll number, which measures the change in the number of people employed during the previous month, excluding the farming industry, to show a gain of 184,000 jobs in July, down from a gain of 195,000 jobs in June, while the unemployment rate is expected to decline to 7.5 percent in July from 7.6 percent in June.
Average hourly earnings, which measures the change in the price businesses pay for labor not including the agricultural sector, is expected to nudge up by 0.2 percent in July, after gaining 0.4 percent in June.
The Personal Income report published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis at 8.30 a.m. EDT, which measures the change in the total value of income received from all sources by consumers, is expected to post a 0.4 percent gain in July, marginally down from 0.5 percent posted in the previous month. Meanwhile, the Personal Spending report, which measures the change in the inflation-adjusted value of all spending by consumers and accounts for a majority of overall economic activity, is expected to increase by 0.5 percent in July, compared to an increase of 0.3 percent in June.
“In general, we expect the spending figures to show that consumption lost less momentum in the second quarter than we previously thought. Meanwhile, income is likely to continue the recent string of decent gains, suggesting households are well placed to boost their spending more significantly in the third quarter,” Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a research report.
U.S. stocks started August on a positive note on Thursday, with major indexes breaking closing records and the S&P 500 index crossing the 1,700 threshold for the first time. The Dow Jones rose 0.8 percent to end at 15,628.02 -- a record high -- and the S&P 500 index gained 1.25 percent to close at 1,706.87 while the Nasdaq composite index rose 1.4 percent to end at 3,675.74.
European markets, on Friday, traded marginally higher as investors awaited employment data from the U.S. for further direction on the state of the world's largest economy. The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 0.37 percent, London’s FTSE 100 was trading flat, Germany's DAX-30 was up 0.16 percent and France's CAC-40 was trading up 0.29 percent.
In Asia, most markets traded higher on Friday, tracking Thursday's gains on Wall Street, with Japan’s Nikkei ending up 3.29 percent as the yen depreciated against the U.S. dollar and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rallied 1.09 percent to its highest level in two months.
In China, the Shanghai Composite index ended flat while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.46 percent. South Korea’s KOSPI Composite index added 0.14 percent while India’s BSE Sensex ended down 0.79 percent.