Here are the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:
U.S. stock futures rose Friday as the government's January employment growth numbers were in line with expectations. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq on Thursday each gained more than 1% to close at record highs as a better-than-expected weekly jobless claims report helped boost sentiment. The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Thursday also added 1%, or 332 points, but remained about 0.4% away from its Jan. 20 record close. Ahead of Wall Street trading Friday, the Dow was up nearly 3.6%; the S&P 500 was up more than 4.2%; and the Nasdaq was up over 5.4%. All three stock benchmarks were tracking for their best weeks since November.
The Labor Department on Friday reported an addition of 49,000 nonfarm payrolls for January, basically matching estimates. The nation's unemployment rate dipped to 6.3%. The economy saw monthly job losses in December for the first time since April as surging Covid-19 cases and increased virus mitigation efforts took their toll. December's shortfall was revised even lower to a loss of 227,000 jobs.
The Senate passed a budget resolution early Friday as Democrats moved forward with the process of passing a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, based on President Joe Biden's blueprint, along party lines. Biden has said he hopes to strike a deal with Republicans on Covid stimulus, but Democrats are taking steps to pass the bill through budget reconciliation, meaning they would not need any GOP votes.
Johnson & Johnson applied for an emergency use authorization from the FDA for its one-shot coronavirus vaccine after releasing data last week showing it was about 66% effective. If J&J's application is approved, it would be the third Covid vaccine cleared for emergency use in the U.S., behind two-shot vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. The FDA's vaccine advisory committee is set to consider J&J's candidate on Feb. 26.
GameStop shares rose modestly in Friday's premarket, one day after closing down another 42% as online brokerage Robinhood removed trading restrictions on the video game maker's stock and other Reddit-fueled short-squeezed names. GameStop's close of $53.50 per share Thursday represented a more than 83% plunge from last week's close of $325. In that week's 400% surge, shares reached an all-time intraday high of $483 each on Jan. 28.
The mania around GameStop may not have been the retail trader rebellion it was perceived to be, according to several data points, which indicate institutional investors as big drivers of the wild price action on the way up. It's possible the noise on social media caused most to overlook Wall Street co-opting this trade to make a fast buck as well, data also shows.
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