US stock futures edge up ahead of June jobs report

New York (July 2)  US stock futures edged higher Thursday, with Wall Street watching the key U.S. jobs report for clues to the Federal Reserve’s next move before wrapping up the holiday-shortened week.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average YMU5, +0.18%  gained 31 points, or 0.2%, at 17,703.00, and those for the S&P 500 Index ESU5, +0.19%  rose 4.4 points, or 0.2%, to 2,075.00. Futures for the Nasdaq 100 NQU5, +0.22%  picked up 10.50 points, or 0.2%, at 4,432.25.

U.S. markets on Wednesday were partly bolstered by a stronger-than-expected reading on jobs growth in the private sector. The S&P 500 SPX, +0.69% rose 0.7% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.79%  jumped 138.40 points, or 0.8%, to 17,757.91. The Nasdaq Composite COMP, +0.53%  picked up 0.7%. Each index, however, was still down about 1% for the week to date.

Developments in Greece’s debt crisis were also on investors’ radar Wednesday and are expected to stay there, as Athens presses ahead with Sunday’s bailout referendum.

Financial markets will be closed on Friday to observe the Independence Day holiday, which means the June nonfarm-payrolls report will be released by the Labor Department on Thursday, at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. Economists polled by MarketWatch forecast a 225,000 gain and a drop in the unemployment rate to 5.4% from 5.5%. See: Five things to watch in June’s jobs report

“The monster number from last months’ jobs report is still fresh in traders’ minds, and as we enter the second half of the year, the thought of an interest-rate hike from the Fed draws nearer,” said David Madden, market analyst at IG , in a note Thursday.

Policy makers will zero in on the wage-growth figure, according to Nour Al-Hammoury, chief market strategist at ADS Securities. “If this disappoints, this would decrease the chances of a rate hike by the Fed in September,” he said in a note. In May, the average hourly pay of U.S. workers rose to a 2.3% annual pace, matching the fastest rate since 2010.

Data: Also coming is the government’s reading on weekly jobless claims, due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. The Commerce Department’s figures on factory orders for May are scheduled for release at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Corporates: International Speedway Corp. ISCA, +0.85%  is expected to report fiscal second-quarter earnings of 40 cents a share on revenue of $172.5 million, according to analysts surveyed by FactSet.

Centene CNC, +3.82%  has agreed to buy Health Net HNT, +17.58%  in a cash-and-stock deal worth $6.8 billion.

Xoom Corp. XOOM, +23.04%  is expected to see active trade. Shares rallied late Wednesday after the digital payments company received a buyout bid from Paypal Inc. EBAY, +0.70% 

Progress Software Corp. PRGS, +2.36%  surged Wednesday evening after the business-software company raised its outlook for the year following better-than-expected earnings.

Shares in General Electric Co. GE, +0.34%  may see movement after the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit to block Electrolux AB ELUXB, -10.37% ELUXY, -9.29%  from acquiring its appliance business.

Other markets: European stocks SXXP, +0.03%  turned slightly lower after comments from Greece’s finance minister on the debt crisis. Overnight in Asia, Chinese shares continued their slide, leaving the Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, -3.48% down 3.4%. The dollar DXY, -0.02%   pared gains it notched Wednesday when it was pushed higher on the upbeat economic data. Oil futures CLQ5, +0.23%  were holding to thin gains, while gold futures GCQ5, -0.76%  slipped.

Source: MarketWatch