Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City on November 11, 2022.
Spencer Plat | Getty Images
Stock futures remained flat early Thursday morning as investors looked beyond the hawks of Federal Reserve meeting minutes released in the afternoon toward labor data due later this week.
Futures linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 34 points and traded about 0.1% lower. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures both also traded up 0.1% and 0.18%.
The moves follow a choppy trading session. Markets had fallen early in the day on a mixed bag of economic data, but stocks rose in the closing bell. The Dow closed the day up 133 points, or 0.4%, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq added 0.8% and 0.7%, respectively.
The November Job Openings and Labor Turnover, or JOLTS, report showed that the labor market remained strong, reinforcing concerns that the Fed could continue to raise interest rates as long as there remains a hot market for workers. But the ISM manufacturing index showed the sector was contracting after 30 months of expansion, which investors saw as a positive indicator that past rate hikes had their intended impact on cooling the economy.
Stocks rose mainly in the afternoon. But gave up some of their gains after the release of minutes from the Fed’s meeting in December, which showed the central bank held on to higher interest rates for “some time”.
Investors still have “fresh wounds” beyond 2022, the stock market’s worst year since 2008, said Keith Buchanan, portfolio manager at GLOBALT Investments. He said investors are trying to balance what each new piece of economic data or Fed commentary may indicate with broader concerns about the future.
“Every day that goes by and we get a data point that’s moving in the right direction is positive,” Buchanan said. “But it’s also quickly followed by concern about how sensitive and delicate this moment is.”
Investors are looking forward to more data on jobs, the trade deficit and business activity on Thursday. Fed speakers Raphael Bostic and James Bullard will also both speak.
On Friday, investors will review data on nonfarm payrolls, the unemployment rate and hourly wages. Since the report could have a major impact on the Fed’s next moves, it has the potential to influence the market. Investors do not want to see large gains in wage growth.