U.S. stock index futures point to a higher open on Friday ahead of the publication of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' nonfarm payroll and unemployment reports.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.92 percent, while futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were up 0.88 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were up 0.90 percent.
The government's monthly nonfarm payrolls report, which measures the change in the number of people employed during the previous month, excluding those in the agriculture sector, 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 future of the U.S. Federal Reserve's bond-buying program.
"What we are seeing now is that everyone is pretty much waiting with baited (sic) breath to see what those payroll figures are going to be," Betty Lam, sales trader at CMC Markets, told Reuters. "A strong figure will mean early tapering of the quantitative easing and a weaker number will have the opposite effect, so everyone is waiting."
Economists polled by Reuters predict that the payrolls data will show the economy added 165,000 jobs in June, after adding 175,000 jobs in May. The estimated gain is better than the revised growth of 149,000 jobs added in April.
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"Historically, June nonfarm payrolls have tended to be weak, possibly reflecting the difficulty in seasonally adjusting the data for the entry of students and the exiting of teachers ahead of the summer recess,” Deutsche Bank's Joe LaVorgna said, in a note to clients.
Private payrolls numbers are expected to decline to 175,000 from 178,000, while the unemployment rate is expected to fall back to 7.5 percent -- seen in April -- after nudging up to 7.6 percent in May, according to economists polled by MarketWatch.
“The wild card, as is always the case in June, is whether more or fewer school leavers than normal entered the ranks of the employed rather than the unemployed,” Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics, said, on Tuesday.
Average hourly earnings, which measure the change in the price businesses pay for labor outside the agricultural sector, is expected to nudge up by 0.2 percent in June, after remaining unchanged in May.
The much-awaited official employment data follows better-than-expected reports on private-sector hiring and weekly jobless claims, all of which pointed toward a strengthening in the country's labor market. Data released earlier this week showed that factory activity in the world’s largest economy recovered in June from an unexpected contraction in May, but hiring in the manufacturing sector was near four-year lows.
European markets, also keeping a watch on employment data out of the U.S., were mostly trading flat in mid-morning trade on Friday, after the European Central Bank and the Bank of England kept their key interest rates unchanged at historic lows on Thursday.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 0.02 percent, London’s FTSE 100 was up 0.33 percent, Germany's DAX-30 was up 0.07 percent and France's CAC-40 was trading down 0.07 percent.
In Asia, most markets traded higher following positive cues from the ECB and BoE, and on expectations of positive hiring data from the U.S.
Japan’s Nikkei ended up 2.08 percent, helped yet again by a falling yen, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rallied up 1.77 percent and China's Shanghai Composite index inched up 0.05 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 ended the day up 0.98 percent while South Korea’s KOSPI Composite index declined 0.32 percent. India’s BSE Sensex was trading up 0.46 percent in mid-afternoon trade.