US markets on standby ahead of jobs report

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US stock futures, the dollar and Treasuries were little changed on Friday as investors sit on the sidelines ahead of the closely followed monthly jobs report that could influence the direction of US interest rates policy.

With an hour to go before figures for April’s non-farm payrolls are published, futures for the main three US stock indices were largely flat and were trading less than 0.1 per cent higher or lower.

The dollar was equally listless, rising 0.1 per cent following yesterday’s 0.4 per cent drop. Yields on the 10-year Treasury were unchanged from Thursday’s level at 2.356 per cent.

After a disappointing March, economists are expecting hiring to rebound with the US economy creating 193,000 jobs in April. A strong payroll report would lend support to the Federal Reserve’s view that the recent slowdown in US growth is likely to prove temporary and reinforce their case for another interest rate increase as soon as June.

Although US economic growth slowed to an annual rate of just 0.7 per cent during the first quarter and a series of economic data have undershot expectations in recent weeks, the Fed played down their significance, saying in the statement that accompanied its interest rates decision this week that the labour market has remained robust.

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