Futures jump ahead of June jobs report, jobless claims data

Stock futures rose as investors awaited a slew of critical employment data on the state of the U.S. labor market set for release later Thursday morning.

The Labor Department’s June jobs report and weekly report on new unemployment insurance claims are each slated for release at 8:30 a.m. ET.

On Wednesday, Wall Street ended July’s first trading day and the third quarter on a positive note, as Pfizer’s (PFE) coronavirus vaccine candidate showing progress in a trial phase — and the Federal Reserve’s pledge to keep the monetary spigots open “for years” — sent the Nasdaq Composite to a record close.

A broad rally in tech stocks carried Amazon (AMZN), Netflix (NFLX) Tesla (TSLA) and Microsoft (MSFT) to new record highs, with those companies riding the momentum of business models that are mostly perceived as coronavirus-proof. With the exception of Tesla, the high-flying tech shares are thriving from large numbers of consumers still working remotely.

Record-breaking surges in coronavirus infections are overshadowing market psychology, and setting the tone for the start of the second half of a turbulent year.

New York City on Wednesday joined New Jersey in postponing plans to reopen indoor dining, with cases outside the Tri-state area skyrocketing. Meanwhile, a spike in California’s infections reportedly prompted the state to shutter indoor activities, including dining, to mitigate the spread.

Nevertheless, stocks closed out a breathtaking second-quarter rally that took them to their best overall quarter since 1998, and best second quarter on record. During that time frame, the S&P 500 saw a near-20% run-up during the April through June period, while the Dow and Nasdaq rose about 17.5% and 30%, respectively.

The historic rally was fueled by a massive fiscal and monetary policy response designed to bolster the virus-stricken economy, and as states and cities across the country began easing their lockdowns. Minutes from the Fed on Wednesday showed the central bank intends to keep its foot on the easing pedal for “years” as the recovery takes shape.

On Wednesday, ADP private payrolls data logged a gain of over 2.3 million jobs. Those figures came ahead of the June nonfarm payrolls report, which is forecast to show the battered U.S. economy created 3 million jobs last month — up from 2.5 million in May.

“We expect June nonfarm payrolls to rise by 2 million,” economists at Barclays said in a research note. They said the unexpected jump in May’s report could signal “a persistent improvement in the hiring rate” — but there was also the possibility that it was temporary.

“If so, this would suggest that the surge in May hiring was more of a one-off event and we could see some give-back in June employment,” the bank added.

However, investor expectations are more tied to new surges in COVID-19 infections, which are walloping the Sun Belt states and prompting more regions to rethink reopening plans. That may put a definitive cap on a market that’s skyrocketed since plunging to multi-year lows in when lockdowns first began in March.

Markets will be closed Friday in observance of the Fourth of July holiday.

8:13 a.m. ET: Tesla tops 2Q delivery expectations, sending shares surging above $1,200

Tesla (TSLA) on Thursday reported better than expected second-quarter delivery results, sending shares surging more than 8% to more than $1,200 per share in pre-market trading.

Deliveries totaled 90,650 for the second quarter, rising 2.5% versus the first three months of the year. Consensus analysts expected just over 83,000 deliveries, according to Bloomberg-compiled data.

The stock, which had hit a record intraday high of $1,119.63, was on track to open at a fresh record level.

7:18 a.m. ET: Stocks point to sharply higher open ahead of jobs data

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 7:18 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,124.25, up 21.25 points (+0.68%)

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 25,828.00, up 253 points (+0.99%)

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 10,312.25, up 43.5 points (+0.42%)

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.27 (+0.68%) to $40.09 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$4.30 (+0.24%) to $1,784.20 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +0.7 bps to yield 0.689%

6:15 p.m. ET: Stock futures open slightly lower

Here were the main moves at the start of the overnight session for U.S. equity futures, as of 6:15 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,101.75, off -1.25 (-0.04%)

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 25,557.00, down -18.00 (-0.07%)

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 10,257.25, down -11.50 (-0.11%)

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