Dow Futures Higher After Jobs Report Shocks the Street

The nonfarm payrolls report for January was way stronger than expected

by Josh Selway

Published on Feb 1, 2019 at 9:13 AM

U.S. stock futures are trading mixed, as traders consider this morning's surprising jobs report. Specifically, nonfarm payrolls for January showed the economy added 304,000 jobs, torching estimates of 170,000 despite the government shutdown. While the unemployment rate moved up slightly to 4%, Wall Street will be wondering how the strong economic data will affect the Fed's dovish outlook.

There will be also a ton to digest on the earnings front, including more high-profile results out of the red-hot tech sector. Most notably, Amazon.com (AMZN) shares are edging lower before the open on a weak current-quarter outlook. On the other hand, a handful of blue chips are higher after earnings. Against this backdrop, the Nasdaq-100 Index (NDX) is eyeing a lower open, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) and S&P 500 Index (SPX) look ready to rise.

Continue reading for more on today's market, including: 

  • How call traders jumped on this rallying weed stock.
  • The bearish signal that just flashed for Mylan (MYL) shares.
  • 2 small-cap stocks that got new "buy" ratings.
  • Plus, Keytruda strength keeps Merck rolling; oil majors gain; and Honeywell tops expectations. 

stock futures today feb 1

5 Things You Need to Know Today

  1. The Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) saw 1.44 million call contracts traded on Thursday, compared to 762,358 put contracts. The single-session equity put/call ratio dipped to 0.53, but the 21-day moving average held at 0.64. 
  2. Merck & Co, Inc. (NYSE:MRK) is trying to overcome seasonal headwinds, up 2.1% before the open, thanks to upbeat quarterly results driven by the company's Keytruda drug. The shares were already up almost 26% year-over-year, and aren't far below their roughly 18-year high of $80.19 from early December.
  3. UBS's bullish call on Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) is looking better by the day, with the blue chip set to open up more than 2% after an earnings beat. Meanwhile, sector peer Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) is also set to gain after a positive turn in the earnings booth.
  4. Honeywell International Inc. (NYSE:HON) is another earnings winner. The company posted better-than-expected top- and bottom-line results, and said it doesn't expect to see a substantial impact from tariffs in 2019. This follows strong results from fellow industrial and aerospace specialists General Electric (GE) and Boeing (BA).
  5. Today will feature data on motor vehicle sales, Markit's services purchasing managers index (PMI), the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) manufacturing index, construction spending data, and a consumer sentiment report. Honda Motor (HMC) and Sony (SNE) are also slated to report earnings. Next week's earnings schedule will feature names like Alphabet (GOOGL) and Walt Disney (DIS).

stock market news feb 1

Mixed Sessions Overseas

It was another hot-and-cold session for stocks in Asia following the latest round of Chinese manufacturing data. The Caixin/Markit manufacturing PMI fell to a weaker-than-expected 48.3 in January, but the Shanghai Composite ended 1.3% higher as the bleak report was expected to drive urgency for U.S.-Beijing trade talks. In Tokyo, a strong day for consumer-dependent stocks helped the Nikkei eke out a 0.07% gain, led by gains of roughly 2% each for FamilyMart and Fast Retailing -- even as Nintendo cratered post-earnings. Elsewhere, Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended down 0.04% and South Korea's Kospi shed 0.06%.

European markets were split at midday ahead of U.S. payrolls data. Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank are selling off again in Frankfurt amid ongoing speculation regarding a potential merger, with the German DAX down 0.2%. Traders are also considering inflation data showing that eurozone price growth cooled to 1.4% in January. At last check, the French CAC 40 is off 0.2%, and London's FTSE 100 has edged up less than 0.1%.


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