Eyes on jobs
Stock futures point to higher open after March employment report.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Investors will be looking to the monthly jobs report to set the direction for stocks Friday.
Stock futures jumped higher after the reading on labor market strength in March, with the comparison to fair value suggesting a flat to mixed open for makers.
Employers added 211,000 jobs in March and the unemployment rate unexpectedly slipped back to a 4-1/2-year low at 4.7 percent, the government said Friday in a report likely to keep concern about potential inflation pressures on the burner.
Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast a gain of 190,000 jobs in the month, after a pickup up of 243,000 in February. The range of estimates from economists surveyed by Reuters was 150,000 to 250,000, although Treasury Secretary John Snow said Wednesday that the jobs data would be "good numbers." The unemployment rate was forecast to remain at 4.8 percent.
The May light crude futures contract for NYMEX fell 83 cents to $67.11 a barrel in electronic trading, while the May contract for Brent crude lost $1.00 to $66.94.
Major markets in Asia closed higher Friday ahead of the U.S. jobs report, with Japan's Nikkei closing at an almost six-year high.
Major European markets were mixed in early trading, with British stocks higher on a report that BAE Systems (Research) is looking at a possible sale of its stake in commercial aircraft consortium Airbus Industrie, a deal that could be worth $4.3 billion. Shares of BAE were down about 0.5 percent in London trading, while shares of European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. which owns the other 80 percent of Airbus, were off 0.6 percent in Paris trading.
In corporate news, Blackberry mobile e-mail device maker Research in Motion (Research) reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings after the bell Thursday that met forecasts, but shares fell 5 percent in premarket trading due to a disappointing outlook for the first quarter from the company.
For a more detailed look at the markets before the open, click here.