Market Snapshot: U.S. stock futures inch lower as traders don’t dare to move before jobs data


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U.S. stock futures edged lower Friday, mostly showing muted action as traders waited for the July jobs report, this week’s most-anticipated economic release.

But Cheniere Energy jumped premarket on news that Carl Icahn is buying an 8% stake, and Groupon and Nvidia made big moves on their earnings reports.

Futures for the S&P 500 ESU5, -0.18%  were last down 4.50 points, or 0.2%, to 2,075, while those for the Dow Jones Industrial Average YMU5, -0.17% dipped by 38 points, or 0.2%, to 17,337. Nasdaq-100 futures NQU5, -0.17%  also were 0.2% lower at 4,516.25.

Economists polled by MarketWatch project that the U.S. economy added 220,000 jobs last month, as the unemployment rate stayed at 5.3%. Read: What to watch in the jobs report

The S&P 500 SPX, -0.78%  is on track for a 1% pullback for the week as of Thursday’s close, while the Dow DJIA, -0.69%  and Nasdaq Composite COMP, -1.62%  are eyeing weekly declines of 1.5% and 1.4%, respectively. On Thursday, the three benchmarks finished with sizable losses, testing technical levels in a choppy session as media stocks suffered a big hit.

What strategists are saying: The July jobs report “is one of two before the September FOMC meeting and every piece of data from here on out plays a large role in the central bank’s decision,” said Doug Coté and Karyn Cavanaugh, strategists at Voya Investment Management, in a note Thursday. FOMC refers to the Federal Open Market Committee, the Federal Reserve policy-making body that could hike interest rates at its September meeting.

Due to the potential for rising rates, it “may be prudent to consider reallocating a portion of an investor’s fixed-income assets to a floating rate product such as senior loans,” the Voya strategists added.

Other strategists have emphasized that stocks could provide a bumpy ride as rates rise, but they still tend to do well. Going back to 1980, Guggenheim Partners has found that in the six months ahead of a rate hike, the S&P 500 rose 8.3% on average, while tacking on 3.7% in the six months after the first move.

Other markets: European stocks SXXP, -0.44%  were mostly lower Friday, but on pace for a weekly gain. Chinese stocks SHCOMP, +2.26% closed higher, while falling bank shares led to steep losses in Australian equities XJO, -2.41% Oil prices CLU5, +0.09%  nudged lower, erasing early gains and on track for a hefty weekly loss. Gold GCU5, +0.14%  edged higher, and the dollar DXY, -0.07% inched lower.

Movers & Shakers: Shares in Groupon Inc. GRPN, -1.68%  switched between gains and losses in premarket trading after initially rising about 6%. The daily-deals company reported that its adjusted quarterly matched forecasts.

Cheniere Energy Inc. LNG, -0.26%  climbed nearly 6% premarket after funds controlled by billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn disclosed an 8.18% stake in the company late Thursday.

Nvidia Corp. NVDA, -0.63%  leapt 9% for the biggest premarket gain among S&P 500 stocks after the maker of graphics chips late Thursday posted adjusted quarterly earnings that beat Wall Street’s estimates.

Hershey Co. HSY, -0.50%  shares fell premarket after the chocolate maker posted a second-quarter loss, though adjusted quarterly earnings topped estimates. Also before the open, Cablevision Systems Corp. CVC, -3.88% delivered profit that topped expectations, while revenue matched estimates.

Read more: Groupon, Hershey and Sotheby’s earnings in focus

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