Dow Futures Rise, Oil Drops Below $100, GameStop Stock Pops—and What Else Is Happening in the Stock Market Today

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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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Stocks rose and US oil prices fell below $100 a barrel as investor attention was turning to the release of the US jobs report for March later in the day.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 140 points, or 0.4%, after the index retreated 550 points on Thursday to close at 34,678. S&P 500 futures signaled a start 0.4% into the green with the Nasdaq poised to open 0.4% higher.

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Overseas, London’s FTSE 100 rose 0.3% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index notched a daily gain of 0.2%.

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US stocks closed out Thursday lower, emblematic of the first three months of 2022, which saw the worst quarterly performance in two years. April and the second quarter were off to a better start.

“Q2 of 2022 is going to start as messily as Q1 has finished, with markets buffeted by a multitude of strong winds from various directions, with the outcome no clearer for the future than ever,” said Jeffrey Halley, an analyst at broker Oanda.

In the spotlight on Friday is the US jobs report for March, which will be released at 8:30 am Eastern time. Rising interest rates remain a key focus for markets, with the Federal Reserve expected to boost rates many times this year and next as the central bank fights off historically high inflation. The Fed will be keeping a close eye on the strength of the labor market as it prepares this monetary policy shift.

“Markets are pricing in a gain of around 500,000 jobs,” noted Halley. “Another monthly print above 600,000 will have the hawks locked and loaded. A soft number under 400,000 will probably just add to the head-scratching about the future. I won’t guess what equity markets will do in either scenario.”

Investors were also monitoring developments in the Russia-Ukraine war, which has roiled commodity markets since it began in February, pushing oil prices higher amid sanctions on Moscow and stoking inflationary fears.

“On the war, more reports joined the chorus signaling that Russian troops were indeed retreating from certain theaters, including various cities, airports, and the Chernobyl nuclear facility,” said Tim Wessel, an analyst at Deutsche Bank. “While positive, the consensus is the locus of the war is moving to the east, rather than ending. Negotiations between Ukraine and Russia are set to resume today.”

Oil prices dropped, with futures for US benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude down more than 1% to near $99 a barrel. WTI traded above $110 earlier this week and neared $130 at points in March.

The recent decline came a day after President Joe Biden announced the largest-ever release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in an effort to help curb high gasoline prices at the pump. The US will release up to 1 million barrels of crude per day over the next six months.

“It’s not just the SPR release [driving oil’s fall] — ultimately that is never going to affect the longer-term fundamentals, albeit it’s a huge release that will reduce pressure for physical barrels,” said Neil Wilson, an analyst at broker “Slowing growth in China, where lockdowns are an ongoing threat, are a factor too. The Russian invasion of Ukraine looms over the entire market.”

Here are two stocks on the move Friday:

GameStop (ticker: GME) jumped 15% higher in premarket trading. The video-game retailer and so-called meme stock said in a regulatory filing late Thursday that it planned to ask shareholders to increase the number of authorized shares to 1 billion from 300 million. A higher share count would allow the company to implement a stock split.

BlackBerry (BB) fell near 1% in the premarket after the Canadian cybersecurity company posted fourth-quarter revenue that fell short of analysts’ expectations.

Write to Jack Denton at [email protected]


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