Market Snapshot: U.S. stocks: Futures extend gains after soft ADP data

U.S. stocks looked on track to rise Wednesday after a three-day skid, as earnings-driven jumps by Priceline and First Solar helped lead S&P 500 futures higher and a softer-than-expected reading on private payroll growth stoked ideas the Federal Reserve might not be so hasty about hiking rates.

S&P 500 index futures ESU5, +0.77% were last up 17.86 points, or 0.9%, at 2,100.75, while those for the Dow Jones Industrial Average YMU5, +0.54%  advanced by 113 points, or 0.6%, to 17,567. Nasdaq-100 futures NQU5, +0.86%  tacked on 44 points, or 1%, to 4,595.75.

On Tuesday, U.S. stocks closed lower for a third-straight session, with the S&P 500 SPX, -0.22%  down 0.2%, as buzz grew about a September interest-rate hike by the Federal Reserve.

What strategists are saying: “Investors are still very cautious ahead of the big day” — meaning Friday, when the jobs report arrives, said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at AvaTrade, in a note Wednesday.

Meanwhile, several large-cap stocks with strong profit growth are sending a positive message about the stock market’s health, says MarketWatch contributor Kevin Marder in his latest column. He’s upbeat on how stocks found a bottom last week.

Economic reports: Automatic Data Processing Inc.’s July private-sector jobs report showed employers added 185,000 jobs in July, a slowdown from the 229,000 added in June. Economists and traders look to the data for clues to the Labor Department’s jobs report, though it isn’t necessarily a strong guide.

The dollar retreated in the wake of the data, while Treasury yields temporarily dipped.

At 10 a.m. Eastern, investors will take in a July figure for the Institute for Supply Management’s nonmanufacturing index, with economists polled by MarketWatch expecting 56.5%.

In Federal Reserve news, Fed governor Jerome Powell said Wednesday he’s undecided on supporting a September rate hike. That is after two Fed regional bank presidents have come out in favor of a September hike earlier this week.

Check out: MarketWatch’s Economic Calendar

Other markets: Asian stocks mostly rose after a gauge of China’s service sector reached an 11-month high, but the positive sentiment didn’t carry over to Chinese equities. European stocks SXXP, +1.09% were broadly higher, while oil CLU5, +1.20% rallied for a second day and gold GCZ5, -0.18%  fell.

The dollar DXY, -0.15%  edged up against its major rivals.

Movers & Shakers: Shares in Priceline Group Inc. PCLN, +3.51%  rose in premarket trading for one of the S&P 500’s biggest gains after the online travel broker posted better-than-anticipated quarterly profit.

First Solar Inc. FSLR, +1.85%  was the biggest S&P advancer, climbing more than 10% after its quarterly results topped estimates late Tuesday.

Walt Disney Co. DIS, +0.47%  shares fell more than 7% in premarket action, for the biggest drop among Dow stocks. Late Tuesday, the entertainment giant’s quarterly revenue missed forecasts.

Read: What’s dimming Disney’s magic? Try the strong dollar

Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc. LL, -1.24%  dived 20% premarket after the flooring retailer posted a surprise loss.

Read more: MarketWatch’s Movers & Shakers column – Top Stories

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