By Georgi Kantchev

Global stocks fell slightly Friday as investors positioned ahead of the U.S. jobs report.

U.S. futures pointed to small opening losses on Wall Street, with Dow Jones Industrial Average futures down 0.1%. Changes in equity futures don't necessarily reflect moves after the opening bell.

In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 was down 0.3%, led by losses on the French and German bourses. Asian markets were mixed, with stocks in Hong Kong gaining, while Japanese shares pulled back. The dollar was flat Friday after falling to its lowest level since mid-December on Thursday.

Many investors are looking to the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report for December, due to be released later in the day, to gauge the strength of the postelection rally. The report could provide some clues on how fast the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in 2017.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expect employers added 183,000 nonfarm jobs last month. That would be a slight acceleration in job creation compared with November when U.S. employers added 178,000 positions. The U.S. has added more than 15 million jobs since the labor market bottomed out in early 2010.

Mark Richards, global strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, said he expected a healthy rise in U.S. jobs in December, with the number confirming the trend in other macroeconomic data in recent months.

"We are in a global economy where most indicators are improving and inflation is picking up from a low base and all this is supportive for risk assets like stocks," Mr. Richards said.

Expectations of a higher-growth, higher-rate environment under President-elect Donald Trump have fueled a broad stock rally and helped push the dollar to its highest level in 14 years, while also sending government bond yields higher since the November election.

That rally, however, seems to have lost some steam in recent days.

"Markets are now looking to Trump to deliver in his first 100 days so there is room for disappointment," Mr. Richards said.

Investors were also watching China's yuan, which surged in recent days after a prolonged selloff. Beijing has been fighting to control the currency's recent descent and on Friday guided the yuan 0.9% stronger against the dollar, its biggest increase since 2005.

Despite the intervention, the yuan slipped in offshore markets, underscoring the difficulty of the task for Chinese authorities as many investors still expect the yuan to decline in the long run. The currency fell 0.7%, with one dollar buying 6.838 yuan. On Wednesday and Thursday in the offshore market, the yuan surged 2.5% against the dollar.

The ICE Dollar Index, which measures the buck against a basket of other currencies, was broadly flat. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which falls as prices rise, was 2.363% Friday, down from 2.370% at Thursday's close.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei Stock Average fell 0.3% while Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.2%. Most commodities were trading down. Gold was down 0.2% at $1,178 an ounce, while copper was down 0.4% at $5,557 a metric ton. Brent crude oil was up 0.1% at $56.97 a barrel.

Write to Georgi Kantchev at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 06, 2017 05:27 ET (10:27 GMT)

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