May 3, 2019 / 11:17 AM / 2 months ago

US STOCKS-Futures tick higher ahead of jobs data

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* Futures rise: Dow 0.21%, S&P 0.25%, Nasdaq 0.49%

By Sruthi Shankar

May 3 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose on Friday after two straight sessions of declines for the S&P 500, as investors took comfort from a largely positive earnings season ahead of the release of jobs data.

Over the last two sessions, a record-setting rally in the main stock indexes hit a wall after the Federal Reserve dashed hopes of interest rate cuts this year and said the softness in inflation was mostly due to transient factors.

Inflation watchers will get more clues when the Labor Department releases jobs data for April at 8:30 a.m. ET. U.S. employers were set to have maintained a strong pace of hiring, while steadily increasing wages for workers.

Nonfarm payrolls is expected to rise by 185,000 jobs last month after rising 196,000 in March, according to a Reuters survey of economists. Average hourly earnings are forecast to have risen 0.3% in April after edging up 0.1% in March.

“We’re expecting another strong report this month, which begs the question, is the economy really as vulnerable as so many seem to fear?” Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda, wrote in a note.

“The Fed may have come around to the idea that the risks are mounting and the inverted yield curve may well have given it the creeps but they’re not yet bowing to the idea that rate cuts are warranted.”

At 7:00 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 55 points, or 0.21%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 7.25 points, or 0.25% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 38.25 points, or 0.49%.

More than 350 S&P 500 companies have reported so far and three-quarters have topped profit estimates, according to Refinitiv data.

The better-than-expected results have turned around earnings estimate for the first quarter to 0.7% rise from a 2% decline at the start of April.

Amazon.com Inc rose 2.4% after CNBC reported Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc has bought shares of internet retailing giant for the first time, though he has not been the one doing the buying.

Cisco Systems Inc fell 1.2%, after fellow network gear-maker Arista Networks Inc forecast weak current-quarter revenue.

Shares of vegan burger maker Beyond Meat Inc jumped 11% after gaining more than 160% in their market debut on Thursday.

Activision Blizzard Inc fell 4.7% after the videogame maker forecast current-quarter profit below expectations as it puts more money into its franchises to battle competition.

Shares of Electronic Arts Inc also declined 1.7% after brokerage MKM Partners downgraded the company’s stock to “neutral” from “buy.” (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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