U.S. stocks looked set to open higher on Thursday, after three straight days of losses, as oil prices rose for the first time this week, and investors awaited the monthly jobs data on Friday.
Oil prices jumped more than 3 percent as a huge wildfire near Canada’s oil sands region and escalating tensions in Libya stoked concerns among investors of a near-term shortage in supply. [O/R]
Jobs data for April is expected to show that nonfarm payrolls likely rose by 202,000, after rising 215,000 in March. The unemployment rate is forecast to hold at 5 percent.
The data is keenly watched as any signs of a strengthening labor market could influence the pace of future rate hikes. Traders, however, are pricing in only one hike later this year.
An accommodative Federal Reserve and a recovery in oil prices have helped U.S. stocks rebound from sharp losses at the start of the year. However, the rally lost momentum in the past two weeks, weighed down by underwhelming quarterly earnings and mixed economic data.
“What we’re seeing is a bit of a relief rally from oversold levels,” said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital in New York.
“The bulk of the earnings are behind us and now investors are looking ahead to the jobs report. There is an expectation that the economy and earnings are going to improve but that still needs to be proved.”
S&P 500 e-minis ESc1 were up 5.75 points, or 0.28 percent, with 186,663 contracts traded at 8:33 a.m. ET (1233 GMT). Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQc1 were up 14 points, or 0.32 percent, on volume of 25,418 contracts. Dow e-minis 1YMc1 were up 46 points, or 0.26 percent, with 25,582 contracts changing hands.
Data on Thursday showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, posting the biggest gain in more than a year, but the underlying trend continued to point to a strengthening labor market.
A number of Federal Reserve heads, including James Bullard of the St. Louis Fed and John Williams of the San Francisco Fed, will present their views on the monetary policy at a central banking conference held at Stanford University later in the day.
Shares of Tesla Motors (TSLA.O) were up 3.6 percent at $230.55 in premarket trading after the company’s first-quarter results broadly beat Wall Street targets.
Fitbit (FIT.N) fell 11.5 percent to $15.14 after the wearable fitness device maker’s profit forecast for the current quarter fell far short of analysts’ estimates.
Alibaba (BABA.N) was up 5.2 percent at $79.75 as China’s biggest e-commerce company said fourth-quarter revenue rose 39 percent.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN.O) was up 4.1 percent at $375.50 after reporting better-than-expected quarterly revenue.
(Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Anil D’Silva)