Whether those gains last through the weekend depends on the October employment situation report, which is due at 8:30 a.m. ET. The consensus is for nonfarm payrolls to swell by 125,000, according to Briefing.com with the unemployment rate ticking up to 7.9%.
While Thursday's jobs-related data was mostly positive, there was some skepticism creeping in ahead of Friday's official report.
"Thus far in October initial jobless claims have averaged 367,000, which is lower than the 376,000 average reported for September and suggests some slowing in the pace of job losses early in the fourth quarter," said RDQ Economics in emailed commentary earlier on Thursday. "We suspect, however, that hiring remained lackluster in October given concerns about looming tax hikes in 2013 and we look for nonfarm payrolls to have risen only 100,000 in October."High Frequency Economics is right in line with the consensus, while Capital Economics is also at 125,000 but expects the unemployment rate to hold steady at 7.8%. As for Friday's scheduled corporate news, Chevron (CVX) is slated to report its third-quarter results after the closing bell. The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters is for a profit of $2.83 a share on revenue of $64.1 billion in the September-ended period. Other companies slated to deliver their numbers include Alcatel-Lucent (ALU), Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B), Cooper Tire & Rubber (CTB), Dendreon (DNDN), Gartner (IT), Harman International (HAR), Hunt Corp. (HUN), Madison Square Garden (MSG), Progressive Corp. (PGR), Sealed Air (SEE), Warner Chilcott (WCRX), Washington Post (WPO). The only other piece of economic data is factory orders at 10 a.m. ET with the consensus calling for an increase of 4.5%. And finally, the earnings news after Thursday's closing bell was pretty positive with both Starbucks (SBUX - Get Report) and Priceline.com (PCLN - Get Report) surging in the after-hours session following their better-than-anticipated quarterly reports. Starbucks' shares were up more than 6% after the coffee giant beat Wall Street's earnings view by a penny, hiked its fiscal 2013 forecast, outlined ambitious growth plans and lifted its quarterly dividend by more than 20%. Priceline's stock was jumping more than 9% after its own above-consensus quarter that featured a 25.2% jump in gross bookings to $7.8 billion. -- Written by Michael Baron in New York.
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