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Stock futures are flat ahead of May’s jobs report

U.S. stock futures were little changed in overnight trading Thursday ahead of the May jobs report.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose just 9 points. S&P 500 futures lost 0.01% and Nasdaq 100 futures ticked 0.03% lower.

Investors have been waiting for the Labor Department’s release of May’s nonfarm payrolls report that comes out Friday morning, with stocks holding near record highs.

Economists expect the report to show 671,000 jobs were added in May, according to economists polled by Dow Jones. The economy added 266,000 jobs in April.

“While the supply of labor is definitely an issue relative to the high level of job openings, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an upside figure relative to expectations just as the April figure so badly missed,” Bleakley Advisory Group chief investment officer Peter Boockvar told CNBC. “Key also will be the wage component as we hear almost every day the need of companies to pay up for workers. Now we get to see to what extent.”

The “May jobs data will be a key factor in determining the path of Fed policy in coming months,” Citigroup economists noted. They forecast 760,000 jobs for May and said a repeat of April’s weak report could mean the Federal Reserve will not taper its bond purchases until next year.

The major averages closed lower on Thursday as gains in economic comeback plays were offset by declines in tech shares. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 23 points, after dropping as much as 265 points. The S&P 500 slid nearly 0.4%. The Nasdaq Composite was the relative underperformer, dipping more than 1% as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google-parent Alphabet dropped.

Boosting sentiment around economic reopening, May’s private job growth rose at its fastest clip in nearly a year as companies hired nearly a million workers, according to ADP. Total hires came to 978,000 for the month, a big jump from April’s 654,000 and the largest gain since June 2020. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for 680,000.

The latest unemployment data released Thursday was also better than expected. First-time claims for unemployment benefits for the week ended May 29 totaled 385,000, compared to the Dow Jones estimate of 393,000. It also marked the first time that jobless claims fell below 400,000 since the early days of the pandemic.

Meme stocks continued their wild prices swings on Thursday, especially AMC Entertainment. The movie theater operator said Thursday morning it was going to sell 11.5 million shares only to announce several hours later it already completed its stock offering, raising $587.4 million in additional capital.

AMC closed down nearly 18%. Other meme stocks like Blackberry also experienced volatility on Thursday.

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— with reporting from CNBC’s Patti Domm.

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