NEW YORK (
) -- All that stands between investors and a warm summer weekend is the government's monthly jobs report, which economists expect will show yet another drop in employment.
nonfarm payrolls report is expected to show the U.S. economy lost 333,000 jobs last month, with the unemployment rate set to tick higher to 9.6% from 9.5%. At the very least, bulls are looking for the job losses to shrink, considering June's disappointing data.
Last month, the employment report showed the economy lost 467,000 jobs in June, a larger-than-expected figure that snapped a streak of lessening numbers. In May, for instance, the number of jobs lost totaled only 322,000.
Optimism for a smaller-than-expected decline in the jobs number faded Wednesday. First, Challenger, Gray & Christmas said layoffs at major U.S. companies increased 31% in July to nearly 98,000, the first increase since January and a clear sign corporate layoffs are once again ramping up.
Shortly after, The
showed that the private sector shed 371,000 jobs in July, slightly more than economists forecasted.
While the jobs data takes top billing Friday, investors will have a few other economic and earnings reports to focus on.
American International Group
is set to report second-quarter earnings, and optimism that the insurer will show some stabilization has driven the stock price higher by 66% in the last two sessions.
Also on the earnings front,
will report quarterly results before the opening bell Friday.
On the economic docket, the
June release on consumer credit data, due at 3 p.m. EDT, may get some attention from the traders left on Wall Street who haven't left early for the weekend.
-- Written by Robert Holmes in New York