NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street pointed lower ahead of the opening bell Friday ahead of the U.S. government's monthly jobs report, which analysts expect to show some softening in an otherwise strong labor market.
Less than two hours before U.S. markets open, futures for the Dow industrials had slipped 0.5% while futures for the S&P 500 fell 0.7%.
Major U.S. benchmarks are up slightly this week, aiming for a second straight week of gains after a seven-week losing streak.
Economists have estimated that the U.S. added a solid 325,000 jobs last month, down from 428,000 in both March and April, according to forecasts compiled by FactSet, a data provider. If they're right, it would snap a record-breaking streak of 12 straight months in which job growth had topped 400,000. The unemployment rate is expected to slip to 3.5% — matching a half-century low — from 3.6%.
That robust environment has developed despite inflation hovering near a four-decade high and worries about higher borrowing rates and a potential recession. Yet employers remain generally optimistic. Consumers have kept up their spending despite their intensifying concerns about higher prices.
Trading has been choppy in recent days as investors remain worried about inflation and the interest rate increases the U.S. Federal Reserve is using to fight it. Wall Street is concerned that the Fed could slow economic growth too much and potentially send the economy into a recession.
Meanwhile high inflation is eating into corporate profits, while the war in Ukraine and COVID-19 restrictions in China have also weighed on markets.
European shares teetered between gains and losses at midday, with France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAX both adding less than 0.1%. Trading was closed in Britain for a national holiday.
Markets were also closed in China for the Dragon Boat Festival, a national holiday. Benchmarks in the rest of Asia edged higher, cheered by a rally overnight on Wall Street.
Japan and the U.S. signed a revision on the “beef safeguard” mechanism under the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement, which will help American beef producers meet Japan’s growing demand for high-quality beef. The deal will reduce the chances Japan's safeguard duties would be imposed on U.S. beef, both sides said. That happened in early 2021.
"Together, the United States and Japan are demonstrating our commitment to working together on shared priorities to achieve concrete, economically meaningful results for our people,” said U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 jumped 1.3% to finish at 27,761.57. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.9% to 7,238.80, while South Korea's Kospi gained 0.4% to 2,670.65.
Bond yields were relatively stable. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which helps set interest rates on mortgages and other loans, was back up to 2.93% after a slight dip.
In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude slipped 37 cents to $116.50 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 30 cents to $117.30 a barrel.
An OPEC meeting Thursday where oil-producing nations decided to boost some output failed to steady energy prices significantly.
“To say the OPEC meeting outcome disappointed expectations would be an understatement,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management.
In currency trading, the U.S. dollar edged up to 130.17 Japanese yen from 129.87 yen. The euro cost $1.0737, down from $1.0752.