August 4, 2017 / 12:57 PM / in a year

US STOCKS-Wall St set to open higher after strong jobs data

* July nonfarm payrolls up by 209,000 vs. est. 183,000

* Average hourly earnings rise 0.3 pct, in line with est.

* Unemployment rate falls to 4.3 pct from 4.4 pct in June

* Futures up: Dow 59 pts, S&P 3.75 pts, Nasdaq 13.75 pts (Adds details, comment, updates prices)

By Tanya Agrawal

Aug 4 (Reuters) - U.S. stock indexes looked set to open higher on Friday after data showed U.S. employers hired more workers than expected in July and also raised wages, signaling labor market tightness.

The Labor Department said that nonfarm payrolls increased by 209,000 jobs last month, above the 183,000 rise expected by economists polled by Reuters.

June’s employment gain number was revised up to 231,000 from the previously reported 222,000.

Average hourly earnings rose 0.3 percent after gaining 0.2 percent in June, while the unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent.

The strong jobs report is likely to clear the way for the Federal Reserve to announce a plan to start shrinking its $4.5 trillion bond portfolio in September, and could strengthen its case to raise rates for the third time this year in December.

“Not only did the July number beat, there was a net revision higher of previous months. Wages seem stuck growing at 2.5 percent year over year, but at least they’re not wavering,” said Brian Jacobsen, senior investment strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management.

“Combine this decent employment report with a weaker dollar and the Fed has no reason to deviate from its plan to shrink its balance sheet and hike one more time this year.”

Dow e-minis were up 59 points, or 0.27 percent, with 33,441 contracts changing hands at 8:39 a.m. ET (1239 GMT).

S&P 500 e-minis were up 3.75 points, or 0.15 percent, with 147,359 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 13.75 points, or 0.23 percent, on volume of 22,785 contracts.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq fell on Thursday, weighed down by top-shelf technology stocks, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up to a seventh straight record high.

Wall Street has shrugged off a recent failure by a Republican-controlled Congress to overhaul healthcare legislation as well as doubts about how easily President Donald Trump will be able to fulfill promises to cut taxes and increase infrastructure spending.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury in Washington to investigate allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, two sources told Reuters on Thursday, signaling the investigation was gathering pace.

A strong earnings season has helped allay some concerns about stretched valuation, with the S&P trading at 18 times expected earnings, compared with its 10-year average of 14. The index has risen 11 percent in 2017.

Analysts expect earnings of S&P 500 companies to have grown 11.8 percent and are projecting earnings to rise 9.2 percent for the September quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Shares of Viacom fell 8.75 percent in premarket trading after the company forecast a low single-digit dip in sales to U.S. pay-TV companies and streaming video services this quarter.

Cigna was up 1.90 percent as the health insurer raised its full-year earnings forecast and reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit.

Yelp jumped 19.96 percent after the company said it would sell its Eat24 business to Grubhub for $287.5 million and reported a better-than-expected quarterly revenue. Grubhub was down 3.03 percent. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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