US open: Stocks gain on hopes of a cooling labour market
US stocks opened broadly higher on Thursday after yet more data pointed to signs of a cooling labour market, raising hopes that the Federal Reserve's next will be to cut interest rates.
The upside move comes ahead of Friday's all-important non-farm payrolls, and follows lower-than-expected private-sector creation figures, weak job openings and moderate jobless claims.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was more or less flat by 1130 ET, while the S&P 500 gained 0.5%. However, the Nasdaq jumped 1% after some big gains from tech stocks.
Jobless claims increased by just 1,000 to 220,000 in the week to 2 December, marginally under expectations of 222,000.
"We think the claims data, along with other recent labor market statistics, are consistent with a job market that is cooling enough to rule out further rate hikes, but still healthy enough to preclude rate cuts from consideration any time soon," said Nancy Vanden Houten, lead US economist at Oxford Economics.
The data follows Wednesday's JOLTS survey which showed that job openings fell to their lowest level since May 2021. Then there was the ADP Employment Report revealing that private-sector employment increased by just 103,000 in November, versus expectations for a 130,000 increase and following a downward revision to October’s numbers.
"Additional moderation in wage growth will be needed to bring inflation back to 2%, and that progress is likely to occur slowly, keeping the Fed on hold through the first half of 2024.
According to the CME FedWatch Tool, markets are pricing in just at 14.1% probability of a rate cut at the FOMC's January meeting, but that rises to 62.2% in March and 88.4% in May.
Looking ahead to Friday's 'official' jobs report, consensus forecasts are for a 180,000 increase in non-farm payrolls in November after a 150,000 reading in October, resulting in an unchanged unemployment rate of 3.9%.
Tech stocks surge
Blue chip tech giant Advanced Micro Devices gained 7% after analysts hailed the chipmaker's AI event on Wednesday.
Nasdaq-listed Cyngn more than doubled in price after being granted a new patent for its autonomous vehicle and driving solutions, which "help to set us apart by enabling automation solutions with unique value propositions to our customers".
Also rising on the tech-heavy index was Hempacco, the CBD hemp cigarette company, which jumped 40% after entering into a distribution agreement in India and Thailand.