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Stock Futures Today
Dow futures forecast a 267-point decline after the U.S. Commerce Department announced that the unemployment rate hit 5.1% in the month of August -- the lowest U.S. unemployment rate in seven years. The U.S. economy created 173,000 jobs, which was fewer than expected. Although China's stock markets are closed today, the Japanese Nikkei hit a seven-month low ahead of U.S. jobs data. The index fell more than 2.3% as concerns about the Japanese economy continue to rattle investors.
Yesterday, the Dow Jones was largely flat, gaining just 23 points in a topsy-turvy session as traders prepared for today's employment numbers. The biggest drag on the DJIA was Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT), which slid more than 2.2%.
In other news, the European Central Bank (ECB) may further loosen monetary policy in order to stimulate the struggling economic bloc. ECB head Mario Draghi said the economic growth worsened in August and new risks are plaguing the European economy, including lower commodity prices, a stronger euro, and a negative outlook on inflation.
Top News in the Stock Market Today
- The Stock Market Today: Investors will weigh this morning's unemployment report, which will be central to the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision this month on whether or not it will raise interest rates. [Editor's Note: After the August jobs report, will the Fed raise interest rates? Get our analysis here...] In a speech this morning, Richmond Federal Reserve Bank Jeffrey Lacker argued that the Fed should not further delay action on interest rates.
- Oil Outlook: Oil prices were down this morning as investors awaited insight from the U.S. Commerce Department on the official unemployment rate. This morning, WTI prices were off roughly 1.1% to reach $46.22. Meanwhile, Brent oil prices declined about 1% to $50.21 per barrel. In addition, the Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI) rig count today will offer insight into U.S. oil and gas production.
- Earnings Reports: No public companies listed on the NYSE or Nasdaq will report earnings today, which is traditional on the Friday before Labor Day.
Pre-Market Movers in the Stock Market Today: PLNT, QCOM, TWTR
- Pre-Market Movers No. 1, PLNT: Shares of Planet Fitness Inc. (NYSE: PLNT) are in focus after the company released its first earnings report since Planet Fitness stock hit the market last month. The gym chain surpassed projected top- and bottom-line estimates. The company reported a profit of $11.5 million, up from $8.8 million a year ago. It reported earnings per share of $0.13, just above the FactSet Research Systems Inc. (NYSE: FDS) estimate of $0.12. So, should you buy Planet Fitness stock after this report? Find your answer right here...
- Pre-Market Movers No. 2, QCOM: Shares of Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) were ticking downward this morning as the semiconductor company remains under pressure from activist hedge fund Jana Partners. The hedge fund has been pushing the company to spin off its chip-making division, but Qualcomm President Derek Aberle said he doesn't believe that breaking up the firm would provide significant value to company shareholders.
- Pre-Market Movers No. 3, TWTR: Shares of Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) dipped in pre-market hours on news that the microblogging firm is boosting its search for a new chief executive. The company's board of directors met yesterday to discuss its plans to replace interim CEO Jack Dorsey, the company's co-founder. Dorsey replaced former CEO Dick Costolo, who resigned in June. Twitter is expected to announce a new CEO very soon.
Stocks to Watch Today: AGN, AMZN, FTR, VZ
- Stocks to Watch No. 1, AGN: Merger and acquisition activity continues to surge in the biotech and healthcare sectors. On Thursday evening, Allergan Plc. (NYSE: AGN) announced plans to purchase AqueSys Inc., a manufacturer of medical devices that are placed in the eye to reduce pressure from glaucoma. The all-cash deal is worth roughly $300 million.
- Stocks to Watch No. 2, AMZN: The digital content streaming wars are heating up. A few days after Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) said it is exploring original content, Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) announced it will purchase Elemental Technologies Inc., a company that provides video infrastructure to reformat digital content. The deal will allow Amazon to expand its infrastructure to provide more internet-based content for users.
- Stocks to Watch No. 3, FTR: Shares of Frontier Communications Corp. (NYSE: FTR) gained more than 6% on Thursday after the Federal Communications Commission approved the company's purchase of the Wireline operations of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) in California, Florida, and Texas.
Today's U.S. Economic Calendar (all times EDT)
- Richmond Federal Reserve Bank Jeffrey Lacker speaks at 8:10 a.m.
- Employment Situation at 8:30 a.m.
- Baker-Hughes Rig Count at 1 p.m.
- Treasury STRIPS at 3 a.m.
What Investors Must Know This Week
- Is This a Bear Market? This Indicator Says Yes
- U.S. Dollar Drops as Global Stock Markets Decline
- Oil Price Forecast Shows Oil Headed for a Rebound
Follow us on Twitter: @moneymorning.
About the Author
Garrett Baldwin is a globally recognized research economist, financial writer, consultant, and political risk analyst with decades of trading experience and degrees in economics, cybersecurity, and business from Johns Hopkins, Purdue, Indiana University, and Northwestern.