U.S. Stocks To Move Higher At Opening, Bolstered By Jobs Data

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks should step higher at Friday's opening, bolstered by an enthusiastic response to data that showed more jobs were created May than projected and by a new job cuts program at Dell Inc.

Adding to the market's cheer was another report showing that inflation has fallen back into the Federal Reserve's comfort zone.

The futures contract for the Dow Jones Industrial Average last was up 35 points at 13,605.

Futures contracts for the S&P 500 were 5.30 points higher at 1,538.20 and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 8.5 points at 1,940.8.

On Thursday U.S. stocks gave a mixed performance. Overnight, Shanghai stocks lost 2.7% of their value on speculation that the Chinese government will roll out a capital-gains tax.

On Friday investors should draw encouragement from the Labor Department's report that 157,000 jobs were created last month, exceeding a MarketWatch forecast of 150,000. Unemployment held steady at 4.5%.

"This news is a bit better than people were expecting," said Georges Yared of Yared Investment Research. "The futures like the news because it shows steady economic growth and confirms the underlying strength of the equities market."

Separately, the Commerce Department reported that core consumer price inflation increased just 0.1% in April, bringing the year-over-year increase down to 2%. This marks the first time in 14 months that core prices have been inside the Fed's unofficial target zone of 1% to 2%.

There's more data ahead. The May consumer sentiment and institute for supply management manufacturing sector surveys are due at 10 a.m. Eastern.

MarketWatch is forecasting an 88.0 reading for sentiment, which would be down a touch from 88.7 in April. The ISM survey is projected to come in at 53.5%, which would be down from 54.7 in April.

The pending home sales index for April also is due at 10 a.m. Eastern.

In addition, May sales figures for Ford Motor Co. , General Motors Corp. and Chrysler will be released during the trading session.

Stocks of note

Shares of Dell were 5% higher at $28.21 in premarket electronic trade. On Thursday the company reported a slight drop in quarterly earnings and said it would slash 10% of its workforce, or about 8,800 jobs. The company is attempting to recoup some of the market share it has lost to the likes of rival Hewlett-Packard Co. .

Shares of Dow Jones shot up 14.4% to $61 before the opening. The stock price jump follows news that the Bancroft family, which holds a controlling interest in the media company, said it will meet with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. -- and any others interested -- about a possible sale.

Forest Laboratories could come under selling pressure. A drug for strokes that it holds the U.S. and Canadian rights for did not meet a Phase Three endpoint.

Other markets

Treasurys extended their losses after the May jobs report. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note last was down 9/32 at 96-22/32 with a yield of 4.927%. Bond analysts think the benchmark yield is likely to shoot through the 5% level in coming sessions.

The dollar initially rallied, then pared most of its gains against the euro after the data showing a strong labor market was offset by news of benign inflation. Dollar proponents had hoped to see brisker inflation because they would like to see a U.S. rate hike.

The euro was last down 0.06% at $1.3445, while the dollar was up 0.2% at 121.92 yen.

Commodities were higher in the early going, with crude futures up 16 cents at $64.17 a barrel and the front-month gold contract up $6.20 at $667.20 an ounce.

By Leslie Wines