Stock futures rise before first session of April, jobs report

U.S. stock futures opened slightly higher Thursday evening as traders looked ahead to the start of a new month of trading and a closely monitored new economic report on the state of the labor market.

Contracts on the S&P 500 edged up to kick off the overnight session. The index fell for a back-to-back session on Thursday, limping into the final session of March and the first quarter.

Investors on Friday are set to closely monitor the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report, offering the most up-to-date snapshot of the strength in hiring across the U.S. economy. Consensus economists are looking for non-farm payrolls to rise by 490,000 for March, according to Bloomberg data, slowing from February’s 678,000 gain but still marking an increase well above pre-pandemic trends. The unemployment rate is expected to dip to 3.7%, or to the lowest since February 2020.

Stocks are heading into April following a volatile month and quarter of trading. The S&P 500 and Dow each dropped more than 4.5% for the first three months of 2022, closing out their worst quarters — and first quarterly declines — since the first quarter of 2020. The Nasdaq Composite fared worse as investors rotated away from technology and growth stocks that had led the market higher last year, and the tech-heavy index shed 9.1% during the first quarter.

April has historically been a strong month for stocks, and has in fact produced a positive return for the S&P 500 in 15 of the last 16 years, according to LPL…

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