Market Snapshot: Dow set to test 29,000 as Wall Street awaits key jobs report

U.S. stocks looked likely to carve out fresh records on Friday, and the Dow industrials may trade at the psychologically significant level of 29,000 for the first time ever, as investors awaited the monthly employment report, a data point that could influence market moves for the day.

How are benchmarks performing?

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average YMH20, +0.10% are up 51 points, or 0.2%, at 28,977, those for the S&P 500 index ESH20, +0.14% were up 6.85 points, or 0.2%, at 3,282.75, while Nasdaq-100 futures NQH20, +0.31% picked up 36 points, or 0.4%, at 9,044.75.

On Thursday, the Dow DJIA, +0.74% gained 211.81 points, or 0.7%, to close at 28,956.90, while the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.67% rose 21.65 points, or 0.7%, to 3,274.70. The Nasdaq Composite Index SPX, +0.67% added 74.18 points to finish at 9,203.43, a gain of 0.8%.

For the week, the Dow is on track to post a 1.1% gain, the S&P 500 is on pace for a weekly rise of 1.2%, while the Nasdaq Composite was set for a gain of 2% in the first full week of 2020, as of Thursday’s close.

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What’s driving the market?

It is all about the jobs report on Friday, with investors watching to see if the U.S. economy can continue a strong pace of job creation, after November’s reading. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch are for a December gain of 158,000 from a 266,000 gain in the prior month. The unemployment rates, meanwhile, is expected to hold at a 50-year low at 3.5%.

The payroll figures are due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

Contributing some hope for a strong jobs number is a private-sector reading from Automatic Data Processing Inc. on Wednesday, which showed job gains in December of 202,000, well above forecasts for 157,000 and marking the highest reading in eight months.

“The US employment report remains the main market-mover for today, with the data coming after a solid ADP survey for December,” wrote analysts at UniCredit in a daily research note.

Beyond the employment figure, U.S. wholesale inventories data is due at 10 a.m. ET.

Markets have been elevated as Middle East geopolitical factors that had dominated the news cycle over the past several days dissipated, at least for the moment.

A Chinese delegation is expected to arrive in Washington on Monday to complete a phase-one trade agreement with the U.S., which has arguably been the most influential driver of stock moves for more than a year. President Donald Trump said he wants a partial trade deal signed by Jan. 15.

Which stocks are in focus?

Shares of KB Home KBH, +0.16% were down 2.8% in premarket action on Friday after the home builder reported fourth-quarter earnings late Thursday. Total revenue rose to $1.56 billion from $1.35 billion a year ago. Analysts were looking for $1.61 billion.

Boeing Co. BA, +1.50% released internal communications that revealed how employees persuaded airline and government officials to conclude that flight-simulator training wasn’t necessary for the 737 MAX. Shares of the embattled air plane maker were off 0.3% before Friday’s opening bell.

Shares of Grubhub Inc. GRUB, +1.79% were down 7.7% in premarket trade after the food-ordering company said isn’t looking to be sold, countering reports from the New York Post that had suggested otherwise.

Eli Lilly & Co. LLY, +1.65% announced a deal Friday to purchase Dermira Inc., a medical dermatology company, for $1.1 billion. The drugmaker’s stock was 0.1% before the start of trade Friday.

How are other markets trading?

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y, -0.42% was virtually unchanged at 1.85% during Friday’s action.

In commodities markets, the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil CLG20, -0.34% edged 8 cents, or 0.1% higher, to $56.64. As for precious metals, gold prices were ticking lower, with an ounce of gold for February delivery GCG20, -0.28% declining $4.20, or 0.3%, to trade at $1549.90.

The U.S. dollar’s DXY, +0.09% value was unchanged Friday, relative to a basket of its major rivals.

In Asia overnight, stocks mostly gained, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index HSI, +0.27% rising 0.3%, the China CSI 300 000300, -0.03% declining less than 0.1% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 NIK, +0.47% adding 0.5%.

Equity prices in Europe were trading mixed, as the Stoxx Euro 600 SXXP, +0.07% picked up 0.1% while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 UKX, -0.11% edged 0.1% lower.