U.S. stock futures perked up slightly Friday as investors welcomed stronger-than-expected April employment report, showing 211,000 new jobs created last month. Gains, however, were limited by volatility in oil prices.
“This jobs report indicates that the job market remains healthy, underlining that the economy continues to grow at a solid, but not spectacular rate,” said Kate Warne, investment strategist at Edward Jones.
On Thursday, the Dow industrials DJIA, -0.11% pared a 110-point loss to finish down just 6.34 points at 20,951.47. The S&P 500 index SPX, +0.09% ended 1.39 points higher at 2,389.52, while the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.11% closed up 2.79 points at 6,075.34.
With one trading session left in the week, the Nasdaq is poised to gain nearly 0.5%, while the S&P 500 is up 0.2% and the DJIA is barely higher.
Losses for the energy sector weighed on stocks Thursday, as U.S. crude and Brent oil prices both crashed 4.8% due to global supply worries. On Friday, WTI crude CLM7, +0.07% bounced around, off 42 cents to $45.08 a barrel, pulling back from a 3% dive in Asian trading, and analysts said prices were likely to remain volatile. Brent LCON7, +0.23% was up 5 cents to $48.45 a barrel.
The next clue to the direction of oil prices could come from Baker Hughes BHI, +0.37% which will report on the number of active U.S. rigs drilling for oil later on Friday. The count has risen for 15 weeks in a row, adding to concerns over the global oil glut.
Economy in focus: Some 211,000 people found new jobs in April as hiring rebounded from a wobbly showing in early spring, offering fresh evidence the U.S. economy is still growing at healthy clip and paving the way for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates soon.
The headline number, as well as the 4.4% unemployment rate were above expectations. Wages grew also, but at a slower pace than late last year.
Fed speakers: Six Federal Reserve officials are scheduled to speak on Friday, starting with Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer at the Hoover Institution monetary policy conference at Stanford University at 11:30 a.m. Eastern. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans, Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard are expected to take part in a panel discussion at the conference at 1:30 p.m. Eastern.
San Francisco Fed President John Williams is lined up to speak at a New York conference on the overhaul of housing finance at 12:45 p.m. Eastern. Finally, Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen is set to talk about “125 years of women’s participation in the economy” at Brown University at 1:30 p.m. Eastern.
Shares of Zynga Inc. ZNGA, +5.63% jumped around 13% in premarket trading after earnings from the social-gaming company beat forecasts.
International Business Machines Corp. IBM, -2.40% shares fell 2.3% in premarket trading. Berkshire Hathaway’s chief executive officer Warren Buffett told CNBC in an interview Thursday that his company has sold about one-third of its stake in the computing giant, owing to a loss of confidence in the group.
Other markets: Chinese stocks SHCOMP, -0.78% finished 0.7% lower on Friday, pressured by worries the nation’s crackdown on speculators and borrowing could weigh on demand for metals. The most actively traded iron-ore futures contract opened down 6.8% on the Dalian Commodity Exchange, after tumbling by the 8% daily limit on Thursday.
European stocks SXXP, +0.35% fell from a 21-month high ahead as investors waited for U.S. jobs data and the French presidential election, which will be decided on Sunday. Investors remain hopeful that centrist Emmanuel Macron will beat far-right Marine Le Pen in that hotly contested race.
Gold GCM7, +0.05% gave up earlier gains to trade flat at $1,217 an ounce, while the ICE Dollar Index DXY, +0.02% was up slightly at 98.86 after the jobs report. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was flat at 2.36%.