Wall Street scores lower ahead of May jobs report

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street pointed lower ahead of the opening bell Friday ahead of the monthly…

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street pointed lower ahead of Friday’s opening bell, ahead of the US government’s monthly jobs report, which analysts say will show some easing in an otherwise strong labor market.

Less than two hours before US markets opened, Dow industry futures were down 0.5%, while S&P 500 futures were down 0.7%.

Major US benchmarks are up slightly this week and are aiming for a second consecutive week of gains after a seven-week loss streak.

Economists have estimated that the US added a solid 325,000 jobs last month, up from 428,000 in both March and April, according to forecasts prepared by FactSet, a data provider. If they’re right, it would break a record-breaking 12 straight-month streak in which job growth had surpassed 400,000. The unemployment rate is expected to drop to 3.5% – equivalent to a half-century low – of 3.6%.

That robust environment has developed despite inflation hovering around its four-decade high and concerns about higher lending rates and a potential recession. Still, employers generally remain optimistic. Despite growing concerns about higher prices, consumers have maintained their spending.

Trading has been choppy in recent days as investors continue to worry about inflation and the rate hikes the US Federal Reserve is using to combat it. Wall Street is concerned that the Fed could slow economic growth too much and could potentially plunge the economy into recession.

Meanwhile, high inflation is eroding corporate profits, while the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 restrictions in China have weighed on markets as well.

European equities wavered between gains and losses around midday, with the French CAC 40 and German DAX both contributing less than 0.1%. Trade in Great Britain was closed for a national holiday.

In China, markets were also closed for the Dragon Boat Festival, a national holiday. Benchmarks in the rest of Asia rose higher, encouraged by an overnight rally on Wall Street.

Japan and the US have signed a review of the “beef safeguard mechanism” under the US-Japan trade agreement, which will help US beef producers meet Japan’s growing demand for high-quality beef. The deal will reduce the chances of Japanese safeguard duties being imposed on U.S. beef, both sides said. That happened in early 2021.

“Together, the United States and Japan demonstrate our commitment to working together on shared priorities to achieve concrete, economically meaningful outcomes for our people,” said US Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

The Japanese benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 1.3% to end at 27,761.57. The Australian S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.9% to 7,238.80, while the South Korean Kospi gained 0.4% to 2,670.65.

Bond yields were relatively stable. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which helps determine interest rates on mortgages and other loans, returned to 2.93% after a slight dip.

In energy trading, the US benchmark fell 37 cents to $116.50 a barrel. Brent oil, the international standard, fell by 30 cents to $ 117.30 a barrel.

An OPEC meeting Thursday, where oil-producing countries decided to ramp up production, has not kept energy prices significantly stable.

“It would be an understatement to say that the results of the OPEC meeting are against expectations,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management.

In currency trading, the US dollar rose from 129.87 yen to 130.17 Japanese yen. The euro cost $1.0737, down from $1.0752.

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