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US pre-open: Stock futures lower ahead of NFP data

(Sharecast News) - Stock futures were in the red ahead of the bell on Friday as investors looked ahead to key data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As of 1230 GMT, Dow Jones futures were down 0.06%, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 futures had the indices opening 0.09% and 0.22% weaker, respectively.

The Dow closed 62.95 points higher on Thursday, with the market finding optimism in fresh labour market indicators.

Friday's primary focus will be November's all-important non-farm payrolls data at 1330 GMT, with economists expecting to see 190,000 jobs being added last month.

The report from the BLS comes just a day after the Labor Department revealed initial jobless claims had come in at 220,000 in the week ended 2 December, while continuing claims printed at 1.86m.

Scope Markets' Joshua Mahony said: "Looking ahead, the US jobs report brings potential volatility for global markets, with traders on the lookout for any signs that the economy is on the turn under the weight of higher rates. The payrolls figure plays a particularly important role today, as we look out for signs on whether last month's disappointing 150,000 payrolls figure represents a new norm or simply a one-off.

"The recent declines in JOLT job openings and rising unemployment claims signal a potential pick-up in unemployment that thus far has yet to occur. Will we finally see unemployment hit 4% for the first time since early 2022? With markets pricing a 64% chance that we will see the Fed cut rates by at least 125-basis points next year, bulls will hope to see signs of economic weakness and further wage disinflation to bolster expectations of a swift return to easing next year."

Elsewhere on the macro front, a preliminary reading of the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index will be published at 1500 GMT.

In the corporate space, Alphabet was trading higher on the back of its Gemini AI product launch, which also boosted AI-associated stocks like Nvidia prior to the open.

Reporting by Iain Gilbert at Sharecast.com

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