Investing.com - Here are the top five things you need to know in financial markets on Friday, August 3:
1. Wages in focus in jobs report
The U.S. Labor Department will release the nonfarm payrolls report for July at 8:30AM ET on Friday, and it will be watched more for what it says about wages than hiring.
However, most of the focus will likely be on average hourly earnings figures, which are expected to rise 0.3%, a tad faster than the 0.2% increase a month earlier. On an annualized basis, wages are forecast to increase 2.7%, the same gain reported in June.
A spike could put the Federal Reserve on notice about inflation as it considers more rate hikes. The Fed said this week it would continue to gradually raise rates should the economy continue to show "sustained expansion," supported by a strong labor market and close-to-target inflation.
2. Japan overtakes China as world’s 2nd largest stock market as tariffs weigh
Chinese stocks have been pummeled by worries over tariffs, losing $2.29 trillion in value since a January high and falling into third place among the world’s biggest stock markets.
As of Thursday’s close, Bloomberg data showed that Chinese equities were worth $6.09 trillion, falling below the $6.16 trillion value of Japanese shares. U.S. stocks remained the biggest market at $31 trillion.
The escalation of trade tensions between the U.S. and Beijing has sent Chinese stocks on a nosedive along with the yuan.
The Chinese currency hit a 15-month low against the dollar early Friday, heading for its eighth straight weekly decline, the longest run since the start of the country’s modern foreign-exchange rate regime in 1994.
China's services sector expanded at the weakest pace in four months in July, as there was the least growth in new business since December 2015, a private survey showed on Friday.
Forward-looking sentiment meanwhile was the second-weakest on record, with respondents blaming concerns surrounding company restructuring and the impact of the U.S.-China trade war.
3. U.S. futures cautious ahead of jobs report
U.S. futures pointed to a flat open on Friday as traders switched to a cautious stance ahead of the jobs report. A day earlier, the Nasdaq Composite ended with gains of 1.24%, boosted by buying furor in Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) that took the tech giant’s market cap beyond the $1 trillion mark.
Elsewhere, European shares traded higher on Friday as investors celebrated upbeat earnings.
Earlier, Chinese shares increased their losses, falling below Japanese equities in value and losing their spot as the world’s second largest stock market where they had been since 2014. Japan’s Nikkei closed with meager gains of 0.05%.
4. Earnings season winding down
The bulk of second quarter earnings have already hit the wires and more than 80% of the S&P firms that have already reported have beaten profit estimates.
Just 8 S&P firms release earnings on Friday, but that will take the total so far to 406, or 81%.
Still, investors will likely look to a few names expected to release quarterly reports ahead of trading Friday.
The top line will likely get the most scrutiny as the company has seen softness in sales in recent quarter. Investors will also be looking for signs of cost inflation.
In addition, online coupon company Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) will issue results. Analysts expect it to post a profit of 3 cents per share on sales of $632 million. Shares of Groupon are higher in the past three months.
5. Oil prices waver ahead of U.S. shale production data
Oil prices wavered in early morning trade on Friday, passing between gains and losses, as a reported drop in inventories at a key delivery point in the U.S. boosted sentiment, but investors awaited data on U.S. drilling activity amid concerns of escalating production.
Information provider Genscape reportedly said Thursday that U.S. crude inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma, the key delivery point for Nymex crude stateside, had fallen by 1.1 million barrels since Friday, July 27. That added to official data out on Wednesday that said those stockpiles decreased by 1.338 million barrels last week.
Capping gains, concerns remained about escalating output from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia.
Market participants will watch production developments in the U.S. as Baker Hughes releases its weekly data later on Friday.
The U.S. rig count, an early indicator of future output, rose by 3 to 861 last week, according to oilfield services firm’s data. That was the first rig count rise in three weeks, pointing to signs of U.S. output growth.
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