NEW YORK — Stock futures fell slightly today as investors were cautious entering a week that provides the latest report on the jobs market.
Employment data has become the most important information for traders recently because jobs growth is considered the best way the recovery can get back on track. Signs of a slowdown in growth has plagued the market for more than a month. Investors are unsure if companies will be able to keep up strong earnings growth if the recovery runs out of steam or falls back into recession.
Waning confidence in the economy and about employment have kept shoppers out of stores, which further adds to a slowdown in the recovery.
A report due out today on July personal income and spending is expected to show wages and spending rose 0.3 percent in July, according to economists polled by Thomson Reuters. That would be a positive sign after income and spending were flat in June.
Higher spending would also signal that maybe shoppers are a little more confident in their finances. Savings rates have climbed sharply as consumers opt to avoid making big purchases.
Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 20, or 0.2 percent, to 10,121. Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures fell 1.20, or 0.1 percent, to 1,062.50, while Nasdaq 100 index futures fell 1.00, or 0.1 percent, to 1,788.25.
The Labor Department’s monthly employment report doesn’t come until Friday though, so investors will look for signs earlier in the week for clues about the jobs market. The Institute for Supply Management releases its monthly manufacturing survey Wednesday, which has an employment component to it. Payroll company ADP also releases its data on private jobs growth Wednesday.
The ADP report is often used as a gauge ahead of the Labor Department’s monthly report later in the week. The government’s report also includes public sector jobs growth, making it a broader measure of the health of the employment market.
The Labor Department releases its weekly report on unemployment claims Thursday. New claims fell last week, but remain at elevated levels. That indicate employers are not adding new workers, even if they aren’t firing too many employees either.
Meanwhile, bond prices rose today, sending interest rates lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 2.62 percent from 2.65 percent late Friday. Its yield is often used to set interest rates on mortgages and other consumer loans.