Stocks inched up early Friday ahead of an April employment report that traders hope will resolve the markets' recent bout of indecision.
Index futures recently showed the
trading 2.5 points above fair value, while the Nasdaq 100 was set for a 1.5-point gain. The 10-year Treasury bond was up 1/32 in price to yield 5.15%, while the dollar fell against the yen and euro.
Economists expect the Labor Department to say the U.S. economy added 205,000 jobs last month while the unemployment rate held steady at 4.7%. The report is another big event for traders trying to game the
near-term policy intentions in light of Ben Bernanke's mixed signals about a rate-hike pause.
Currently, another quarter-point hike in the fed funds rate to 5% next week is priced into financial futures. The Fed next meets in late June. The odds of another quarter-point tightening at that confab have swung drastically over the last week and currently sit at about 40%.
Stocks have been comparably volatile, with the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
closing at six-year highs on Tuesday and Thursday, while falling roughly 0.2% on Monday and Wednesday. The index added 0.3% to 11,439 yesterday, while the S&P 500 rose 0.3% to 1312 and the
rose 0.9% to 2224.
Crude futures firmed after tumbling 6% over the previous two sessions. The June contract was recently up 51 cents to $70.45 a barrel. Energy prices have been guided by concerns about the nuclear ambitions of Iran, a subject that will be taken up formally Friday by the U.N. Security Council.
European shares were higher, with London's FTSE 100 recently adding 0.4% to 6059 and Germany's Xetra DAX gaining 0.6% to 6074. Markets in Japan and Hong Kong were closed for holidays.
In corporate news,
first-quarter earnings fell sharply from a year ago due to a litigation charge. Excluding that and other items, the pharmacy-benefits manager earned 56 cents a share, a penny better than expected.
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late Friday also said quarterly earnings fell from a year ago, weighed down by the cost of changing some supplier contracts. Adjusted earnings of 68 cents a share matched forecasts.
reported second-quarter homebuilding revenue of $1.4 billion, up 18% from a year ago. The mansion maker also said the value of its contracts fell 29% in the period, reflecting concerns about price buoyancy.
said it lost $7 million, or 5 cents a share, in the March 31 quarter, narrower than the 16-cent Thomson First Call consensus. Revenue rose 4% to $796 million, also exceeding forecasts.
A 25 million-share secondary offering of the
priced last night at $61.50 apiece, slightly below the 4 p.m. close. The deal will raise more than $1.5 billion for seatholders and other owners of the exchange.
tamped down first-quarter guidance Friday, saying it expects revenue to be at the low end of its previously stated range of $167 million to $177 million. Pro forma earnings could also trail estimates, the company said.