U.S. stock futures extend gains as jobs data cuts rate hike chances

U.S. stocks looked set to open higher after data showed job growth slowed more than expected in August and wage growth remained anemic, potentially making the central bank cautious about raising interest rates again this year.

The U.S. economy added 156,000 jobs in August, below the 180,000 expected by economists polled by Reuters.

The unemployment rate edged up to 4.4 percent from 4.3 percent, while the average hourly earnings increased 0.1 percent after rising 0.3 percent in July.

The sluggish wage growth follows data from Thursday that showed annual inflation in July advanced at its slowest pace in more than 1-1/2 years.

U.S. short-term interest rate futures rose slightly on Friday, reflecting the expectation that the Fed will not raise interest rates before mid-2018.

“It’s a little bit of a disappointment,” said Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West.

“The labor market is doing fine but not quite as strong as people thought going into this number … this probably raises the odds the Fed doesn’t go ahead with a December rate hike.”

However, August’s moderation in employment growth, likely reflects a seasonal quirk and is far more than the 75,000 to 100,000 jobs per month needed to keep up with growth in the working-age population.

Dow e-minis <1YMc1> were up 58 points, or 0.26 percent, with 21,545 contracts changing hands at 8:43 a.m. ET (1243 GMT).

S&P 500 e-minis <ESc1> were up 6 points, or 0.24 percent, with 168,196 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis <NQc1> were up 21 points, or 0.35 percent, on volume of 35,530 contracts.

All three major indexes are on track to post gains for the second straight week, though trading volume is expected to remain muted as investors head into the Labor Day weekend.

Wall Street closed higher on Thursday, with the S&P 500 notching five days of gains for the first time in three months, as investors took cautious hope from Washington’s latest promises for long-awaited details of a tax reform plan.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said President Donald Trump’s administration has a detailed plan on tax reform and is on track to implement it by year-end.

Oil prices fell in the wake of Harvey, which has killed more than 40 people and brought record flooding to the oil heartland of Texas, paralyzing a quarter of the U.S. refining industry. [O/R]

Shares of Palo Alto Networks <PANW.N> jumped 8.2 percent in premarket trading after the cybersecurity firm reported profit and revenue above expectations.

Ambarella <AMBA.O> was down 13.8 percent after a series of price target cuts following a tepid forecast.

Canadian yoga and leisure apparel maker Lululemon Athletica <LULU.O> rose 5.8 percent on earnings beat.

Cloud data-storage firm Nutanix <NTNX.O> rose 7.7 percent after its revenue forecast came in above estimate. REUTERS

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