NEW YORK, April 2 — US stock index futures rose yesterday, as investors awaited jobs data for confirmation of labour market strength and clues on the pace of interest rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve.

The Labour Department’s closely watched employment report, due at 8.30am ET, is expected to show a gain of nearly 500,000 jobs in March, with the unemployment rate falling to a new two-year low of 3.7 per cent and wages re-accelerating.

This could position the Fed to raise interest rates by a hefty 50 basis points in May.

The US central bank last month increased its policy rate by 25 basis points for the first time since 2018, and policymakers have increasingly signaled readiness for aggressive interest rate hikes to combat decades-high inflation.

Rate-sensitive banks like Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo & Co rose more than 1 per cent in premarket trading.

Meanwhile, Russia allowed gas to keep flowing to Europe yesterday despite a deadline for buyers to pay in roubles or be cut off, and peace talks resumed, with Moscow saying it would respond to a Ukrainian offer.

Hopes about a possible peace deal between Russia and Ukraine had lifted stocks earlier this week but fizzled out, with all the three main indexes suffering their biggest quarterly decline in two years on Thursday.

At 07.21am ET, Dow e-minis were up 160 points, or 0.46 per cent, S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were up 19.5 points, or 0.43 per cent, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 65.25 points, or 0.44 per cent.

The S&P 500 fell 1.2 per cent in the last hour of trading on Thursday, the largest hourly drop for the index in more than three weeks, with traders pointing to a massive quarterly options trade from a JPMorgan fund as one reason.

Megacap stocks including Tesla Inc,, Microsoft Corp, Meta Platforms, Apple Inc and Google owner-Alphabet Inc gained over 0.5 per cent each.

GameStop Corp, which was at the centre of a social-media fuelled trading frenzy last year, jumped 15.7 per cent, after the videogame retailer said it would seek shareholder approval for a stock split. — Reuters