November 30, 2020

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Stock futures steady after Nasdaq hits record to start third quarter

A passenger wears a protective mask at the Wall Street subway station in New York, on Monday, March 30, 2020.

Michael Nagle | Bloomberg via Getty Images

Futures contracts tied to the major U.S. stock indexes held steady Wednesday evening as investors looked ahead to two jobs reports on Thursday, the week’s final day of trading.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures added 27 points, suggesting an opening move just under the flatline when regular trading resumes on Thursday. S&P 500 futures pointed to a similar opening decline of less than 0.1% while Nasdaq-100 futures indicated a modest advance.

The after-hours moves Wednesday evening followed the market’s first trading day in the third quarter. Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite gained during the regular session on Wednesday, with the latter jumping more than 1% to an all-time high. 

Though the Dow Jones Industrial Average lagged on Wednesday with a modest loss, all three major indexes are on track for sizable weekly gains. The S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq Composite are up 3.5%, 2.8% and 4%, respectively, since Friday’s close.

U.S. markets will be closed on Friday for the July Fourth holiday.

Though traders accredited Wednesday’s gains to optimism over a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, Thursday’s multiple jobs reports loom large into the holiday weekend.

The closely-watched monthly employment report, set to be released Thursday at 8:30 a.m., has proven difficult for market watchers to forecast of late. Last month, economists forecast a loss of 8 million jobs in May and the economy gained 2.5 million payrolls instead.

Economists expect nearly 3 million jobs were created in June, as companies rehired workers they let go when the economy shut down. Consensus estimates also forecast the unemployment rate falling to 12.4% from 13.3% in May.

Meanwhile, the weekly jobless claims data will also be released Thursday morning. 

The weekly claims data will provide Wall Street with a better sense of how many are still collecting unemployment benefits, a figure known as continuing claims. Last week, the Labor Department said there were still nearly 20 million collecting state unemployment benefits during the week ended June 20.

Another 1.38 million workers are expected to have filed initial claims for state unemployment benefits last week, down from 1.48 million the week earlier.

CNBC’s Patti Domm contributed reporting.

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