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US futures dip ahead of key jobs report

Stocks slipped before the open Friday as investors waited for the release of the US monthly jobs report, which could make or sink the case for the Federal Reserve to start cutting interest rates.

Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) and the S&P 500 (^GSPC) futures were around 0.1% lower, while contracts on the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 (^NDX) fell almost 0.3%.

AI buzz helped techs lead stocks higher on Thursday, with surges for Alphabet (GOOGL) and AMD (AMD) after they introduced rivals to ChatGPT and Nvidia (NVDA) chips, respectively.

But it’s this week’s stream of labor market data that has gripped attention, culminating in November’s crucial US nonfarm-payrolls report, due early Friday.

The report will serve as a test for stocks, which rallied as investors grew optimistic that the Fed’s rate hikes have peaked and a “soft landing” for the US economy is on the cards.

Read more: What the Fed rate-hike pause means for bank accounts, CDs, loans, and credit cards

Hints of cooling in the labor market this week are seen as a sign the Fed’s inflation fight is paying off. But Friday’s reading could prove more complicated to assess, given worker strikes hit the comparative October numbers.

In a return to the OpenAI drama, the UK antitrust regulator said Friday it will examine the ChatGPT’s partnership with Microsoft (MSFT) for a potential merger probe.

In commodities, oil prices bounced back but are still on course for the longest run of losses in five years as the market weighs whether extra OPEC+ cuts will fend off a global glut. West Texas Intermediate (CL=F) futures and Brent (BZ=F) crude futures were both about 2% higher.

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