US markets look set to open slightly higher as investors look ahead to the US non-farm payroll unemployment report for April to point to acceleration in the economic recovery in the second quarter. Futures suggest the S&P 500 will open 2 points higher at 1,885 with the Dow Jones expected to open 10 points higher at 16,568. Each month’s US employment report has been important of late in an era in which the Fed’s pullback from its quantitative easing program is data dependant. After Wednesday’s advance GDP growth estimate of 0.1% the unemployment report is more important than ever to signal Q2 will be an improvement over Q1. Economist expectations are for job growth of 216k but with the Dow making all-time closing highs, US stock markets appear to be pricing in a bigger number. For stock markets to keep making new highs, one of two things is needed, ongoing monetary stimulus or improving earnings/economic growth. Monetary stimulus is being tapered so the emphasis is increasingly on earnings. In the context of near zero economic growth, US earnings this season have actually been pretty good but US growth and employment need to improve in the second quarter for any hope that earnings growth can continue. Chevron release quarterly earnings today and are expected to have earned $2.51 per share on revenue of $54.47bn. The oil major raised its dividend alongside competitor Exxon Mobil on Wednesday which helped propel the Dow to new highs. Exxon reported EPS higher than expected yesterday but missed on revenue as poor weather affected production. Chevron is likely to have been similarly impacted. The energy sector has been one of the best performing this year as investors have moved away from technology and other growth sectors. Earnings growth from the majors will be needed for this trend to continue. CVS Caremark is expected to earn $1.04 per share on revenue of $32.31bn Estee Lauder is expected to show earnings of $0.55 per share on revenue of $2.49bn. CMC Markets is an execution only provider. The material (whether or not it states any opinions) is for general information purposes only, and does not take into account your personal circumstances or objectives. Nothing in this material is (or should be considered to be) financial, investment or other advice on which reliance should be placed. No opinion given in the material constitutes a recommendation by CMC Markets or the author that any particular investment, security, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person.