Stock Market

Dow futures flip higher after March jobs report in thin Good Friday trading

U.S. stock-index futures turned higher in a holiday-shortened session after a solid March jobs report, though investors won’t fully digest the data until next week with cash trading in equities closed due to the Good Friday holiday.

Trading in stock-index futures closed at 9:15 a.m. Eastern. Stock-index futures resume trading at their regular time, 6 p.m., on Sunday, as U.S. markets return to normal trading hours Monday.

What stock-index futures are doing
  • Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average

    rose 64 points, or 0.2%, to 33,723.

  • S&P 500 futures

    gained 9.75 points, or 0.2%, to 4,141.75.

  • Nasdaq-100 futures

    ticked up 13.50 points, or 0.1%, to 13,184.25.

With the exception of the Dow industrials, U.S. stocks finished the holiday-shortened week lower on Thursday after three consecutive weekly gains for the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq. The Dow

rose 0.6% for the week, while the S&P 500

shed 0.1% and the Nasdaq

slumped 1.1%, after scoring its best quarter since 2020.

Market drivers

The U.S. added 236,000 new jobs in March, defying the Federal Reserve’s hopes for a big slowdown in hiring and possibly making it harder for the central bank to tame inflation. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had forecast 238,000 new jobs.

The unemployment rate, meanwhile, slipped to 3.5% from 3.6%. Wages rose 0.3% last month.

“This month’s report indicates that interest rate hikes have yet to impact tight unemployment conditions,” said Steve Rick, chief economist at CUNA Mutual Group, in emailed comments.

Treasury yields popped higher and the dollar rose, though traders noted conditions were thin due to the holiday. Fed-funds futures showed traders pricing in a nearly 70% chance the Federal Reserve will lift interest rates by a quarter-point in May and a roughly 30% chance policy makers will leave rates unchanged. Traders had seen a roughly 50-50 split on Thursday.

“Today’s jobs report is consistent with a slow-moving recession unfolding in the U.S. and one that does not point to immediate resolution of inflation concerns,” said Jason Pride, chief investment officer of private wealth at Glenmede, in a note. “As such, the odds of another quarter-point rate hike in May should go higher as the data does not appear to justify a Fed pause.”

That said, policy makers and investors will see a raft of data before the next Fed meeting, including next week’s consumer-price index reading, Pride noted.

See: Jobs report ‘likely tips the scales toward another rate hike in May’ — economists react to March release

Good Friday is a market holiday but not a U.S. federal holiday. That means the U.S. Labor Department released its March jobs report, as usual. Bond traders will see a half day of trading, with Sifma recommending a noon ET close to allow a reaction to the data.

Read: Why Good Friday complicates how stock-market traders will digest March jobs report

Investors saw a stream of jobs-related data over the course of the past week. Data on Tuesday showed the number of U.S. job openings dropped below 10 million to a 21-month low, indicating a hot jobs market may be starting to lose some sizzle.

ADP on Wednesday said the private sector added 145,000 jobs in March, well below the 210,000 expected by economists. Weekly jobless claims data on Thursday morning showed first-time applications for benefits last week came in higher than expected.

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