Reuters: US STOCKS-Wall St set to open flat ahead of Yellen's speech

Wednesday Dec 02, 2015
* Private sector adds most jobs since June
* Yellen to speak at 12:25 p.m. ET
* November jobs report expected on Friday
* Yahoo shares rise after reports of sale of core unit
* Futures: Dow down 12 pts, S&P up 0.5 pts, Nasdaq up 4.25 pts (Adds details, comment, updates prices)
By Tanya Agrawal
Dec 2 U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Wednesday as investors held off on taking big positions ahead of Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s speech.
Data showed that the private sector added the most jobs since June as markets awaited clues from Yellen on an expected interest rate increase on Dec. 16.
Yellen will speak before the Economic Club of Washington at 12:25 p.m. ET (1625 GMT). She also testifies on the economic outlook before a joint committee of Congress on Thursday.
The economic data has not been playing ball with the Fed’s policy plans in recent weeks and has been mixed at best. While construction spending has risen, there has been a sharp downturn in the manufacturing surveys along with weaker retail sales.
However, job growth has been strong and Friday’s employment report is expected to show that the U.S. economy added 200,000 jobs in November.
Data on Wednesday showed U.S. private employers added 217,000 jobs in November, up from the 196,000 in October. Economists polled by Reuters had expected an addition of 190,000 jobs. The data could be an indication of the more comprehensive non-farm payrolls expected later in the week.
“Today’s data bodes well for Friday’s jobs report and the hawks in the Fed,” said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital in New York.
Sarhan expects some sideways trading ahead of Yellen’s speech, saying, “Investors are waiting for more cards to come out of the deck and with the ECB meeting tomorrow and the Friday jobs number, there are a lot more data points to digest.”
The European Central Bank is expected to ramp up its trillion-euro bond-buying program on Thursday.
S&P 500 e-minis were up 0.5 points, or 0.02 percent, with 128,775 contracts traded at 8:20 am ET. Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 4.25 points, or 0.09 percent, on volume of 19,678 contracts. Dow e-minis were down 12 points, or 0.07 percent, with 16,823 contracts changing hands.
The CME Group’s analysis of 30-day Fed funds futures prices shows investors place the probability of an interest rate hike this month at 75 percent.
A host of Fed speakers make appearances through the day, including San Francisco Fed President John Williams, Federal Reserve Board Governor Daniel Tarullo and Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker.
Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said there is a compelling” case for an initial hike in interest rates during the Fed’s next meeting.
U.S. stocks started December on a positive note as health and consumer shares bounced back while auto sales suggested upbeat growth in November.
Yahoo shares were up 3.7 percent at $34.97 in premarket trading on Wednesday after reports that the company was weighing a sale of its core Internet business. Alibaba , in which Yahoo has a stake, was up 0.5 percent at $84.40.
Facebook was marginally up at $107.29, a day after CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he will put 99 percent of his Facebook shares, currently worth about $45 billion, into a new philanthropy project.
Box was up 3.8 percent at $14.23 ahead of reporting its quarterly results. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Don Sebastian)
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Adam Sarhan Reuters Quote: Instant View: Jobless claims fall, trade deficit narrows


NEW YORK | Thu Nov 8, 2012 9:18am EST

(Reuters) – The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, a sign the labor market’s slow recovery was gaining traction although a severe storm distorted the data.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 355,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. That was below the median forecast in a Reuters poll of 370,000.
The U.S. trade deficit narrowed in September as exports increased, suggesting the economy expanded more than previously believed in the third quarter.
The seasonally adjusted monthly trade gap fell to $41.55 billion, the smallest deficit since December 2010, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. Analysts were expecting the trade gap would widen to $45.0 billion.
“The best way to look at trade is that weakness we saw in August and July was overstated. This is a snapback from that. This suggests export growth is weak but not contracting. Going forward, export growth should be weak as well. As for next year, the pace of growth should pick up with an improvement in global demand.”
“Trade is narrower with a narrower revision and so good for GDP, say a 0.4 percent contribution, but we’ll point out that the real goods balance ex-petroleum was wider. The very nuanced point is that when it comes to things, this actually represents a bit of a drag — we bet no one else will make that point.”
“It is pretty difficult to interpret, given hurricane Sandy,
would expect that the net effect was depressed claims. They said in some areas it increased claims and in some areas it depressed claims but in the coming weeks claims will start rising, so it was difficult to know what the underlying figure would be. I was surprised continued claims fell quite sharply — they are a week earlier so they shouldn’t have had such a strong hurricane Sandy effect.”
“Claims came in stronger than expected, which follows a string of better-than-expected datapoints, especially on the labor front. We’ve seen a big spike in the trend of the jobs market in the past few months. We were stable, but since the unemployment rate dropped below 8 percent, it seems like there’s been an acceleration in the amount of jobs being added. We should react positively to this.”
“Despite recent marginal improvement in the overall economy, there has been little corresponding improvement in jobless claims. The labor market remains flat at best.”