January 10, 2020 / 2:13 PM / 6 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St set to open higher on tech support; jobs data underwhelms

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* U.S. job growth slows more than expected in December

* Apple, Qorvo, Skyworks up on positive broker comments

* Easing Iran tensions, trade hope spur risk-on mode

* Futures up: Dow 0.09%, S&P 0.18%, Nasdaq 0.34% (Adds comment, details; updates prices)

By Medha Singh and Sruthi Shankar

Jan 10 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set to open slightly higher on Friday, aided by technology stocks, while slower-than-expected domestic job growth in December shaved off some early gains.

A Labor Department report showed nonfarm payrolls increased by 145,000 jobs last month, below the 164,000 job rise forecast by economists polled by Reuters.

However, the pace of hiring remained more than enough to keep the longest economic expansion in history on track despite a deepening downturn in a manufacturing sector stung by trade disputes.

Friday's report also showed the jobless rate holding near a 50-year low of 3.5% and average hourly earnings rising 0.1% in the previous month.

"The numbers weren't too far from expectations, consistent with moderate jobs growth," said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.

"We're seeing modest gains in wages and that was probably the big surprise after you got a downward revision to the average hourly earnings in both October and November. So no real pressure for the Fed to raise rates."

Signs that the United States and Iran will stand down on further military action, and firming hopes that an initial U.S.-China trade deal will be signed next week have helped U.S. stocks recover from a blip earlier this week caused by flaring tensions in the Middle East.

Futures tracking Dow were up 26 points, or 0.09% at 9:01 a.m. ET. S&P 500 e-minis were up 5.75 points, or 0.18% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 30.75 points, or 0.34%.

Technology stocks, the market leaders of the last decade, were on track for sharpest gains among the 11 main S&P sectors in the first full trading week of 2019.

Apple Inc rose 0.4% in premarket trading after Credit Suisse became the latest brokerage to raise its price target on the stock, citing better-than-feared iPhone 11 cycle so far.

Apple suppliers Qorvo Inc and Skyworks Solutions Inc also gained more than 1.8% each after Mizuho upgraded both the stocks to "buy" on an improving 5G handset outlook.

Facebook Inc was up 0.6% after a report Bernstein started coverage on the stock with an "outperform" rating.

Nvidia Corp rose 1.5% after Citigroup added the stock to its "catalyst watch" list.

With the fourth-quarter earnings season set to begin in earnest next week, analysts expect profits for S&P 500 companies to drop 0.6% in their second consecutive quarterly decline, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. (Reporting by Medha Singh, Sruthi Shankar and Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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