Here are the most important news items that investors need to start their trading day:
1. Senate clears rail deal
The Senate on Thursday passed legislation to enforce a railroad labor agreement, sending the bill to President Joe Biden for signing ahead of a strike deadline. The agreement grants rail workers pay raises, one-time payouts and one additional day of paid time off. But it won’t guarantee workers paid sick leave — chief among the labor unions’ concerns — after the Senate voted against a separate House-approved resolution to include seven days of paid sick time in the agreement. Biden had urged quick approval of the agreement in order to avoid the economic impacts of a rail workers’ strike.
2. Jobs report ahead
The monthly jobs report hits at 8:30 a.m. ET Friday morning and is expected to show a slowing economy. Dow Jones estimates see the U.S. adding 200,000 jobs, fewer than the 261,000 added in October. Economists also expect the unemployment rate to hold steady at 3.7% and average wage growth to slow month over month. The report, which is closely watched each month, is in particular focus this time around as the Federal Reserve looks to ease up on inflation-fighting rate hikes.
3. Markets digest data
Stocks closed mostly lower Thursday on the back of mixed economic data: A report on core personal consumption expenditures came in slightly better than expected, but the ISM Manufacturing Index posted a bigger-than-expected decline. “Taken together, these two pieces of data may be suggestive of a soft landing for the US economy as long as growth does not slip much further,” Goldman Sachs’ Chris Hussey said in a note. The Dow lost nearly 195 points Thursday, and the S&P 500 fell 0.09%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained slightly. Follow live market updates here.
4. SCOTUS takes on student debt
The Supreme Court said it would hear arguments in a case against Biden’s plan to forgive some student debt, reviving hopes for million of borrowers. A federal appeals court last month issued an injunction on the plan — which would erase up to $20,000 of student debt for many — in response to a challenge by six Republican-led states. Oral arguments are set for February, and the plan will remain on hold in the meantime.
5. Putin open to talks
Russian President Vladimir Putin is open to holding talks on a possible resolution to the war in Ukraine, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said. U.S. President Joe Biden said Thursday he would be ready to meet with Putin if Putin was prepared to end the war, but he didn’t offer confidence that would happen soon. “I’m prepared to speak with Mr. Putin if in fact there is an interest in him deciding he’s looking for a way to end the war. He hasn’t done that yet,” Biden said.
— CNBC’s Lori Ann LaRocco, Dan Mangan, Patti Domm, Emma Kinery and Tanaya Macheel contributed to this report.
— Follow broader market action like a pro on CNBC Pro.