February 1, 2019 / 12:41 PM / 6 months ago

US STOCKS-Futures edge lower ahead of U.S. jobs data

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* Futures: Dow up 0.02 pct, S&P off 0.15 pct, Nasdaq down 0.55 pct

By Sruthi Shankar

Feb 1 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures inched lower on Friday, as subdued factory data from China and disappointing outlook from Amazon stalled optimism after the S&P 500 posted its best month since 2015.

Amazon.com Inc fell 4.2 percent in premarket trading after the e-commerce giant forecast quarterly sales below Wall Street estimates, overshadowing its record sales and profit during the holiday season.

Shares of Amazon, one of the most valuable U.S. companies, which have surged about 14 percent this year, dragged down the tech-heavy Nasdaq futures.

Factory activity was at its weakest in years across much of the world during January, adding to worries trade tariffs, political uncertainty and cooling demand posed an increasing threat to global growth.

Trade-focused Asia appeared to be suffering the most visible loss of momentum, with Caixin/Markit index of Chinese manufacturing falling to its lowest since February 2016.

Investors are hoping that a trade deal between the United States and China, engaged in a bitter tariff war, could ease some of the slowdown concerns.

January ended on a high-note for U.S. markets after the Federal Reserve pledged that it would be patient in raising interest rates further this year and U.S. President Donald Trump said he would meet Chinese President Xi Jinping soon to try to seal a comprehensive trade deal.

Markets are looking ahead to U.S. payrolls data at 8:30 a.m. ET, which is expected to show job growth slowed in January after December’s weather-related outsized surge.

Nonfarm payrolls are expected to increase by 165,000 jobs last month, according to a Reuters survey of economists, after shooting up 312,000 in December.

The jobs report comes at a time hundreds of thousands of federal workers who were furloughed are back at work following the recent partial government shutdown. The 35-day shutdown, which ended a week ago, may complicate the report but is not expected to have a lasting effect on U.S. employment or the economy.

At 7:16 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 4 points, or 0.02 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were down 4 points, or 0.15 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 38 points, or 0.55 percent.

Oil majors Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp rose slightly ahead of their results.

Honeywell International Inc rose 1.7 percent after the industrial conglomerate forecast full-year earnings in a range that was largely above analysts’ estimates.

Cigna Corp shares fell 2.7 percent after the health insurer forecast 2019 revenue and earnings below estimates.

The insurer’s shares, along with other pharmacy benefit managers took a hit after the U.S. government proposed a rule to end the industry-wide system of after-market discounts called rebates, which they get from drugmakers.

CVS Health Corp fell 2.4 percent. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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