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European Markets

 

European markets are called to open flat this morning.

Asian Markets

 

Asian stocks declined, sending the region’s benchmark index to its fifth straight weekly loss, and the dollar fell toward a three-week low against the yen before a Labor Department report today forecast to show slowing U.S. jobs growth. Metals advanced, with copper snapping a two-day slump.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 0.3 percent at 3:06 p.m. in Tokyo. Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index decreased 0.2 percent, while those on the Euro Stoxx 50 Index increased 0.3 percent. The dollar depreciated 0.3 percent to 80.67 yen. Copper, nickel and zinc jumped at least 1.8 percent in London. Oil was little changed after earlier gaining as much as 0.5 percent in New York.

U.S. employers added 165,000 jobs in May, the least in four months, according to a Bloomberg News survey of economists. The median forecast for payrolls growth has dropped 11 percent since the start of the week after a private jobs report missed estimates and as data on manufacturing and consumer confidence pointed to a cooling U.S. recovery. Moody’s Investors Service said yesterday it may put the U.S. government’s credit rating on review for a downgrade.

“Investors are going to be on hold today, waiting for the jobs report,” said Juichi Wako, a Tokyo-based senior strategist at Nomura Holdings Inc., Japan’s biggest brokerage. “We’ve had some poor data out of the U.S. lately, and the employment numbers will help settle some questions.”

More than five shares fell for every three that gained on MSCI’s Asia Pacific index, taking the gauge’s weekly loss to 0.2 percent. The five-week slump will be the gauge’s longest losing streak since October 2008, after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. triggered a global sell-off.

US Markets

U.S. stocks closed mostly lower on Thursday, with the Dow and S&P falling for a second day in a row, as fears about the economy and concerns about consumer spending weighed on investors’ minds.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 42 points, or 0.3%, to end at 12,249, with Wal-Mart and Chevron the biggest drags on the blue-chip index. At one point in the session, the Dow stumbled nearly 100 points.

The S&P 500 lost 2 points, or 0.1%, to 1,313; and the Nasdaq Composite rose 4 points higher, or 0.2%.

Retail stocks pressured the broader market throughout the day, as major retail chains reported mostly disappointing same-store sales. Limited Brands , Kohl’ and Gap were among the worst performers on the S&P 500.

“Those are some pretty big names giving some disappointing numbers,” said Frank Davis, senior equity trader with Wedbush Morgan Securities. “It adds to the already-heightened anxiety over the recent economic data.”

Investors also remained sharply focused on the labor market. Weekly jobless claims stayed above the 400,000 level for the eighth straight week.

“Jobless claims have taken a lot more meaning over the last several weeks,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.

The figure takes on even more importance in light of Wednesday’ “shockingly weak” private sector jobs report, Luschini added. Both reports come ahead of the government’ key monthly jobs report on Friday.

Events this week

Friday: All eyes on Friday will be on the May jobs report, out at 8:30 a.m.

The Institute for Supply Management will put out its May services index at 10 a.m. Economists are looking for the ISM services index to edge up to 53.3 from April’ 52.8