May 3, 2019 / 1:16 PM / a year ago

US STOCKS-Strong jobs data set to boost Wall Street at open

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* U.S. job additions rise solidly above estimates

* up as Berkshire Hathaway buys shares

* Activision Blizzard falls on weak Q2 profit forecast

* Futures up: Dow 0.55%, S&P 0.53%, Nasdaq 0.80% (Updates prices, adds details, comments)

By Sruthi Shankar and Shreyashi Sanyal

May 3 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose in choppy trading on Friday as a surge in job growth in April pointed to a solid domestic economy, while a steady wage growth backed the Federal Reserve’s patient view on interest rate hikes.

The Labor Department’s monthly employment report showed jobs increased by 263,000 jobs last month, while economists polled by Reuters had forecast a 185,000 rise. The unemployment rate dropped to a more than 49-year low of 3.6%.

However, average hourly earnings rose 0.2% in April after rising by the same margin in March and below the anticipated 0.3% rise.

The report was broadly supportive of the U.S. central bank’s decision earlier this week to keep interest rates unchanged. Chairman Jerome Powell’s comments on weak inflation as mostly “transient” also drove down trader bets of a rate cut this year.

“The volatility in equities is somewhat reasonable given the headline numbers were pretty surprising and very positive in this environment,” said Charlie Ripley, senior market strategist at Allianz Investment Management in Minneapolis.

“It really reiterates Powell’s message on Wednesday, that the economy is in really good shape and inflation is low and that there isn’t any need to make changes to policy right now.”

At 8:59 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 144 points, or 0.55%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 15.5 points, or 0.53% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 61.75 points, or 0.8%.

Wall Street’s main indexes eased from their record highs in the past two sessions after the Fed dashed hopes of interest rate cuts this year and oil prices fell.

More than 350 S&P 500 companies have reported so far and three-quarters have topped profit estimates, according to Refinitiv data. The better-than-expected results have turned around earnings estimate for the first quarter to 0.7% rise from a 2% decline at the start of April. Inc rose 2.6% in premarket trading, after CNBC reported Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc has bought shares of internet retailing giant for the first time, though he has not been the one doing the buying.

Cisco Systems Inc dipped 0.6%, after fellow network gear-maker Arista Networks Inc forecast weak current-quarter revenue.

Activision Blizzard Inc fell 2.4% after the videogame maker forecast current-quarter profit below expectations as it puts more money into its franchises to battle competition.

Shares of Electronic Arts Inc also declined 0.7% after brokerage MKM Partners downgraded the company’s stock to “neutral” from “buy.” (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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