Dow Jones futures are up 66 points this morning after the U.S. Department of Labor said the unemployment rate ticked up to 4.4% in August. That's a sign traders are still optimistic about the economy.
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Here are the numbers from Thursday for the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq:
Now here's a closer look at today's most important market events and stocks, plus Friday's economic calendar.
The Five Top Stock Market Stories for Friday
- This morning, the U.S. Department of Labor reported the unemployment rate rose to 4.4% for the month of August. The agency said that 156,000 jobs were created during the month. That's slightly under the 179,000 jobs economists predicted, but so far stocks aren't hurt by the numbers. We'll be digging deeper into the report later this afternoon, but it is safe to assume that Hurricane Harvey led to a rather large uptick in temporary job losses between Texas and Louisiana. The monthly figure is critical because job growth remains a key factor in the U.S. Federal Reserve's decisions on its interest rate policy moving forward. We'll see increased speculation today on whether the central bank plans to raise interest rates one final time in December.
- Gasoline prices continue to surge. Prices increased by another $0.07 in the last 24 hours as concerns about the U.S. refinery network accelerate in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Roughly 20% of the nation's refinery capacity has been shuttered or reduced. Markets are now concerned about the formation of tropical storm Irma, which is brewing in the Atlantic that could become a Category 5 hurricane within days. Another storm hitting the Gulf Coast could put more pressure on gas prices as refineries' capacities fall.
- The Trump administration will start the second round of talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico. So far, talk has been tough from U.S. President Donald Trump. On more than one occasion, he has threatened to pull the United States out of NAFTA altogether because he believes it to be unfair to U.S. workers.
- The U.S. government and European Commission have allowed Dow Chemical and DuPont to merge, and today will be the first day that the newly formed chemical giant appears on the New York Stock Exchange. The new firm, DowDuPont, will trade under the stock symbol "DWDP."
- Crude oil prices were still sliding in premarket hours due to Hurricane Harvey. The natural disaster has created serious problems for the U.S. oil production market. With refineries coming offline across the country, U.S. producers are slowing down their output. The WTI crude oil price today fell another 0.25%. The Brent crude price fell 0.1%.
Stocks to Watch Today: LULU, AMBA, PANW
- Shares of Lululemon Athletica Inc. (Nasdaq: LULU) added more than 5.3% after the yoga apparel giant topped Wall Street earnings expectations Thursday. The strong report contained a beat in same-store sales estimates and a word that the company hiked its annual forecast. Its $0.39 earnings per share (EPS) figure was four cents higher than Wall Street estimates.
When Will the Dow Hit 23,000?
- Meanwhile, shares of Ambarella Inc. (Nasdaq: AMBA) plunged more than 12% in premarket hours despite news that the firm beat quarterly earnings estimates after the bell Thursday. The firm reported EPS of $0.48 on top of $71.63 million. Wall Street expected per-share earnings of $0.45 on top of $70.76 million. Traders likely see weakness in its primary customers like GoPro Inc. (Nasdaq: GPRO) and remain concerned about the firm's competitors in a crowded semiconductor market.
- In cybersecurity news, shares of Palo Alto Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: PANW) rallied after the company posted quarterly earnings well above expectations. The tech giant reported EPS of $0.92 on top of $509.1 million in revenue. Wall Street analysts anticipated that the firm would report EPS of $0.79 on top of $486.51 million. PANW stock added 7.5% in premarket hours.
- On Friday, no major U.S. companies report quarterly earnings.
Friday's U.S. Economic Calendar (all times EDT)
- Employment Situation at 8:30 a.m.
- PMI Manufacturing Index at 9:45 a.m.
- ISM Manufacturing Index at 10 a.m.
- Construction Spending at 10 a.m.
- Consumer Sentiment at 10 a.m.
- Baker-Hughes Rig Count at 1 p.m.
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