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U.S. Stocks May Open Higher Despite Weak Jobs Data

wallstreet1 up 032918 08jan21 lt

Stocks may move to the upside in early trading on Friday, extending the rally seen over the course of the previous session. The major index futures are currently pointing to a higher open for the markets, with the Dow futures up by 94 points.

The markets may continue to benefit from optimism that a Democrat-controlled government will lead to more fiscal stimulus and a better handling of the coronavirus vaccine rollout.

In a statement on Thursday, President Donald Trump finally acknowledged "a new administration will be inaugurated on January 20th," although he declined to mention President-elect Joe Biden by name.

Trump has repeatedly refused to accept the outcome of the election, spouting fraudulent claims of widespread voter fraud that inspired his supporters to assault the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday.

Traders seem hopeful for a return to normalcy, as Democrats will control both houses of congress and the White House but do not have the margin in the Senate to force through radical legislation.

The futures gave back some ground following the release of a closely watched Labor Department report showing an unexpected decrease in U.S. employment in the month of December.

The Labor Department said non-farm payroll employment fell by 140,000 jobs in December after climbing by an upwardly revised 336,000 jobs in November.

The decline surprised economists, who had expected employment to increase by about 71,000 jobs compared to the addition of 245,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

Employment decreased for the first time since April as the recent surge in coronavirus cases led to a nosedive in employment in the leisure and hospitality sector, which lost 498,000 jobs.

Meanwhile, the report said the unemployment rate came in at 6.7 percent in December, unchanged from November. Economists had expected the unemployment rate to inch up to 6.8 percent.

Shortly after the start of trading, the Commerce Department is scheduled to release its report on wholesale inventories in the month of November. Wholesale inventories are expected to edge down by 0.1 percent.

The Federal Reserve is scheduled to release its report on consumer credit in the month of November later in the day. Consumer credit is expected to increase by $9.0 billion.

Following the mixed performance seen on Wednesday, stocks moved sharply higher during trading on Thursday. With the upward move on the day, the major averages all reached new record closing highs.

The major averages all closed firmly in positive territory, although the tech-heavy Nasdaq outperformed its counterparts. The Nasdaq spiked 326.69 points or 2.6 percent to 13,067.48, while the Dow climbed 211.73 points or 0.7 percent to 31,041.13 and the S&P 500 jumped 55.65 points or 1.5 percent to 3,803.79.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index surged up by 2.4 percent, while South Korea's Kospi skyrocketed by 4 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets are turning in a mixed performance on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index has dipped by 0.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.5 percent and the German DAX Index is up by 0.7 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are advancing $0.72 to $51.55 a barrel after rising $0.20 to $50.83 a barrel on Thursday. Meanwhile, after climbing $5 to $1,913.60 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are plunging $32.20 to $1,881.40 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 103.63 yen versus the 103.81 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Thursday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.2268 compared to yesterday's $1.2272.

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