Stock futures sink amid geopolitical concerns, with investors awaiting jobs data


Stock futures sank Thursday morning following fresh concerns over geopolitical ties with Russia and China. Traders also looked ahead to jobs data out later in the morning and on Friday. 

Investor sentiment turned lower after Russia’s finance minister announced the country will entirely remove U.S. dollar assets from its National Wealth Fund and instead shift further to euros, yuan and gold, with the threat of sanctions from the U.S. looming. Elsewhere, President Joe Biden is reportedly planning to amend a ban on investments in companies with ties to China’s military, according to Bloomberg, in a move that would target key industries in the world’s second largest economy. 

Earlier, stocks had been in a holding pattern this week ahead of key economic data releases. ADP will release its closely watched report on private payroll changes for May Thursday morning, which is expected to show another 650,000 jobs came back last month on top of the 742,000 added back in April. And the Labor Department’s report on new weekly unemployment claims is expected to show new filings broke below 400,000 for the first time since March 2020, with fewer individuals becoming newly unemployed as more areas of the economy reopen.

Both reports will set the stage for the Labor Department’s May jobs report out Friday morning, which will be instrumental in determining the strength of the economic recovery and suggesting whether the Federal Reserve might soon be due to taper its crisis-era asset purchase program. April’s sharply disappointing jobs report – with a paltry 266,000 jobs added back while 1 million had been expected – served as fuel for the Fed to stay on hold with current policies. But this stance could be undercut by a marked improvement in data, some pundits noted.

“The May employment numbers are really very important,” Steven Blitz, TS Lombard U.S. economist, told Yahoo Finance. “That’s really going to set in the market’s mind whether or not the Fed announces a taper at the end of July or whether it’s at some later date.”

Other pockets of the market have also garnered considerable attention. The so-called so-called “meme stocks,” or stocks that have become popular on the Reddit forum r/wallstreetbets, gave back gains in early trading after rallying strongly on Wednesday. Shares of AMC Entertainment Holdings (AMC) fell 9% after doubling on Wednesday. The resurgence in retail investor interest also lifted shares of companies including Naked Brand Group (NAKD), BlackBerry (BB) and Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY), though many of these speculative trades lost steam in the early morning session.

“I don’t know if it’s so much a threat to the market. It’s more of a learnings experience,” Ryan Nauman, Zephyr market strategist, told Yahoo Finance of the surge in meme stocks. “This is no longer our grandparents’ or our parents’ stock market. Now, investment professionals, they might need to start looking at alternative data sets, rethinking their investment theses to consider this growing cohort of retail investors.”

7:30 a.m. ET Thursday: Stock futures fall

Here’s where markets were trading ahead of the opening bell:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 4,178.00, -28.25 points (-0.67%)

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 34,398.00, -192.00 points (-0.56%)

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 13,548.00, -125.75 points (-0.92%)

  • Crude (CL=F): -$0.10 (-0.15%) to $68.73 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$15.70 (-0.82%) to $1,894.20 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +1.2 bps to yield 1.603%

6:16 p.m. ET Wednesday: Stock futures edge higher

Here’s where markets were trading Wednesday evening:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 4,207.25, +1 point (+0.02%)

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 34,592.00, +2 points (+0.01%)

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 13,683.50, +9.75 points (+0.07%)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 11: People walk by the New York Stock Exchange after global stocks fell as concerns mount that rising inflation will prompt central banks to tighten monetary policy on May 11, 2021 in New York City. By mid afternoon the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite had lost 0.6% after falling 2.2% at its session low.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MAY 11: People walk by the New York Stock Exchange after global stocks fell as concerns mount that rising inflation will prompt central banks to tighten monetary policy on May 11, 2021 in New York City. By mid afternoon the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite had lost 0.6% after falling 2.2% at its session low. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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