5 things to know before the stock market opens Friday, April 1

Here are the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:

1. Futures rise after jobs report and worst quarter in 2 years

Traders on the floor of the NYSE, March 31, 2022.

Source: NYSE

US stock futures started the second quarter higher Friday after lower-than-expected but still robust March employment growth. Wall Street on Thursday ended its worst quarter since the first three months of 2020, which included the Covid pandemic lows in late March of that year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq all dropped about 1.5% on Thursday. For Q1, the Dow and S&P 500 closed down 4.57% and 4.95%, respectively. The Nasdaq lost 9.1%. The start of a rate-hiking cycle from the Fed, high inflation and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have all contributed to the struggles for equities so far this year.

2. Recession signal: Key Treasury spread flips for first time since 2019

Treasury yields jumped on Friday’s jobs report, one day after the 2-year yield briefly rose above the 10-year yield for the first time since 2019, an inversion that often happens before economic recessions. That spread was on either side of inversion Friday morning. Some data providers showed the 2-year/10-year inverted for a few seconds on Tuesday, but CNBC data did not confirm it at the time.

In another key yield spread, which inverted Monday for the first time since 2006, the 5-year and the 30-year flipped again Friday. The short-duration yields going above the longer-dated ones signal the market concerns that the Fed might raise interest rates too quickly. A yield spread on a much shorter time horizon — the 3-month Treasury and the 2-year — has been decidedly positive.

3. March hiring misses estimates, but it’s still a pretty strong report

Now Hiring sign of Denver Public School placed in front of Bromwell Elementary School in Denver, Colorado on Tuesday, December 7, 2021.

Hyoung Chang | Denver Post | Getty Images

The US economy added slightly fewer jobs than expected in March. Nonfarm payrolls expanded by 431,000 for the month, while the unemployment rate fell 3.6%. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for 490,000 on payrolls and 3.7% for the jobless level. Average hourly earnings, a closely watched inflation metric, increased nearly 5.6% year-over-year in March, just above estimates. Jobs growth in February was revised up 72,000 to 750,000. January was revised up 23,000 to 504,000.

4. Russian troops turn Chornobyl nuclear site back over to Ukraine

A Ukrainian serviceman looks through binoculars at the front line, east of Kharkiv, on March 31, 2022, during Russia’s military invasion on Ukraine.

Fadel Senna | AFP | Getty Images

In the latest developments in Russia’s war against Ukraine:

  • Russian troops left the heavily contaminated Chornobyl nuclear site early Friday after returning control to the Ukrainians.
  • In what would be the first attack of its kind, if confirmed, the governor of Russia’s Belgorod region accused Ukraine of flying helicopter gunships across the border Friday morning and striking an oil depot.
  • Ukraine has also continued to make successful but limited counterattacks within its borders. Western officials said there were growing indications Russia was using its talk of de-escalation in Ukraine as cover to regroup. Ukrainian and Russian negotiators planned to resume talks via video Friday.

5. GameStop soars as the video game retailer announces stock-split plan

Pedestrians pass in front of a GameStop retail store in New York, December 23, 2021.

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Shares of GameStop jumped 15% in Friday’s premarket, the morning after the video game retailer announced plans for a stock split. GameStop said it will seek approval at its next shareholder meeting for an increase in the number of Class A common stock from 300 million to 1 billion shares to partly conduct a split in the form of a stock dividend.

GameStop was on a tear in March, up 35% as of Thursday’s close, as enthusiastic retail investors stood by their favorite meme. The stock got a boost earlier last month when Chairman Ryan Cohen, who’s effecting a transformation into a digital-first company, bought an additional 100,000 shares, bringing the activist investor’s ownership to 11.9%.

— CNBC’s reporters Sarah Min, Jesse Pound, Hannah Miao, Jeff Cox and Yun Li as well as The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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