Friday March 4th


Futures extend gains after jobs; S&P futures top 2K for 1st time since Jan. 6

U.S. stock index futures indicated a higher open on Friday as investors digested the jobs report for indications on economic growth and the path of Federal Reserve tightening. S&P 500 e-minis topped 2,000 in early morning trade for the first time since Jan. 6, Reuters reported. The nonfarm payrolls report showed creation 242,000 jobs in February, topping expectations. The unemployment rate unchanged at 4.9 percent, while labor force participation was 62.9 percent. A 0.1 percent monthly drop in average hourly earnings lowered the year-on-year gain in earnings to 2.2 percent, Reuters said. Dow futures briefly traded more than 70 points higher soon after the data release. Treasury yields rose, with the 2-year near 0.89 percent. In other economic news, the U.S. trade deficit widened more than expected in January to $45.7 billion as a strong dollar and weak global demand helped to push exports to a more than 5-1/2-year low, suggesting trade will continue to weigh on economic growth in the first quarter. U.S. stocks closed higher Thursday, building on the gains of the week so far, as oil prices stabilized. On Friday morning, crude futures rose on the back of official U.S. data which showed oil production fell to its lowest level since November 2014, according to Reuters. rude oil futures held gains on Friday, as U.S. jobs data came in well above consensus estimates. The U.S. economy added a better-than-expected 242,000 jobs in February while the unemployment rate held steady at 4.9 percent. Economists were expecting 190,000 new positions and no change in the jobless figure. Brent futures rose 65 cents to $37.72 a barrel shortly before 8:33 a.m. EDT (1333 GMT). The crude benchmark settled 14 cents higher in the previous session. Brent is set to end the week with a gain of more than 6 percent. U.S. crude futures rose 37 cents to $34.94 a barrel, having settled down 9 cents in the previous session. They were also on pace for a 6-percent weekly gain. Economists expected 190,000 nonfarm payrolls in February's employment report, and the unemployment rate to stay unchanged at 4.9 percent, according to Thomson Reuters. Elsewhere on Friday, there are just a few earnings from Staples and WPP Group. Investors will also keep a check on the race for the White House. Republicans' current front-runner Donald Trump shared a debate stage in Detroit with rivals Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and John Kasich on Thursday evening. This came after former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney battled Trump on Thursday — both delivering a blistering series of insults against each other's temperaments, electability and business acumen. Markets in Asia totted up gains for the week despite a tepid session on Friday that saw major indexes waver between positive and negative territory. Asian currencies, including the yuan, strengthened against the dollar. Japan's Nikkei 225 retraced losses from earlier in the session to close up 54.62 points, or 0.32 percent, at 17,014.78. For the week, the benchmark index gained 5.1 percent as it returned to above the 17,000-level. Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi finished down 2.54 points, or 0.13 percent, at 1,955.63; the index gained about 1.9 percent for the week. Chinese markets finished mixed, with the Shanghai composite reversing losses to close up 14.29 points, or 0.5 percent, at 2,874.05; the index was up 3.8 percent for the week. The smaller Shenzhen composite slipped in Friday's session, closing down 51.16 points, or 2.91 percent, at 1,706.96. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed 1.18 percent higher. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index added 8.90 points, or 0.18 percent, to 5,090, registering a 4.3 percent overall gain for the week. Gold fell nearly 1 percent as the dollar gained on a better-than-expected U.S. jobs report. Spot gold was at $1,253.63 an ounce, down 0.76 percent, well off an earlier high of $1,274.70 an ounce, its strongest since February last year. U.S. gold futures for April delivery were down 0.27 percent at $1,255.10. The metal has risen 20 percent this year as volatility in equities and oil prices picked up, prompting investors to buy bullion as a haven from risk. A 0.3 percent drop in the dollar versus the euro helped support gold on Friday.