US Stock Futures Point To Higher Open Ahead Of Employment Report; Jobs Data Should Dictate Market Direction In Friday's Session

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A man holds pamphlets as he waits at a job fair.

Investors will look to March's employment report for an insight into the health of the nation's economy, and the jobs data should provide direction to markets Friday.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.15 percent while futures on the S&P 500 were up 0.17 percent and those on the Nasdaq were up 0.25 percent. On Thursday, the Dow ended the session nearly unchanged from its previous close and the S&P 500 inched down 0.11 percent while the Nasdaq dropped 0.91 percent.

The employment report for March is expected to be released at 8:30 a.m. EDT and the data should influence trades during the day. According to a Wall Street Journal consensus estimate, the monthly change in non-farm payrolls is expected to be 206,000 while the unemployment rate is expected to slide down to 6.6 percent.

“Markets want a steady pace of jobs growth, not too cold and not too hot. A big jump, such as north of 275,000 jobs, might force the Fed to speed up tapering and at that point ‘good news’ might become ‘bad news’” for equities, Jim Russell, a senior equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management, told MarketWatch.

In Europe, markets were positive with the Stoxx Europe 600 index trading up 0.15 percent while the FTSE 100 was up 0.35 percent. Germany’s DAX-30 was up 0.33 percent while France's CAC-40 rose 0.25 percent.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei-225 slipped 0.05 percent while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.24 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.24 percent while the Shanghai Composite was closed for a local holiday. South Korea’s Kospi was down 0.28 percent and India’s BSE Sensex was down 0.66 percent.

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