Hello friends and Fortune readers.
Wall Street stock futures are too nervous to move ahead of the all-important employment report this morning, a set of data which will have a big impact on the Federal Reserve’s thinking when it decides later this month whether to raise interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade. The dollar hit a four-month high against the euro earlier on speculation that the data will strengthen the Fed’s resolve to hike.
Today’s must-read story is from Fortune‘s Chris Matthews and it looks at the current state of the U.S. labor market ahead of the latest monthly employment report.
Here’s what else you need to know to start the day.
1. War of words over Egypt air disaster continues
The war of words between the U.K. and U.S. on one side and Egypt and Russia on the other took another turn as Egypt denied access to the ‘rescue flights’ intended to take thousands of stranded U.K. tourists home from the resort of Sharm-el-Sheikh. Russia blasted London Thursday for not sharing the intelligence on which it based its comments that the Metrojet flight that crashed in the Sinai peninsula last Saturday was “more likely than not” brought down by a bomb.
2. October jobs report
After two months in a row of moderate increases, U.S. employment growth is expected to have picked up speed in October. Economists expect the Labor Department to report that the U.S. added 180,000 new jobs last month after averaging just 139,000 per month in August and September. Stronger growth could lead to increased speculation of a Federal Reserve interest rate hike before the end of the year.
3. Cigna earnings
Cigna (CI), which agreed to be sold to larger health insurer Anthem (ANTM) for $47 billion over the summer, is expected to fall just shy of Wall Street estimates for the company’s third-quarter earnings when it reports today. Last week, Anthem’s own quarterly report showed increased sales and profit.
4. Humana reports
Another major player in the health insurance industry’s current game of consolidation, Humana (HUM) is being sold to Aetna (AET) in a $37 billion deal. When Humana reports third-quarter earnings today, the insurer is expected to meet the expectations of analysts predicting increased earnings per share following an uptick in government plan enrollments.
5. James Bond lands in the U.S.
Today marks the stateside release of the latest entry in the iconic James Bond franchise, Spectre, starring Daniel Craig as Agent 007. The Sony (SNE) movie arrives just in the nick of time for the U.S. box office, which just suffered through its worst month of the year in terms of ticket sales. Spectre is fresh off a record-breaking debut in the U.K. where the film grossed $80.4 million in its first week.
— Reuters contributed to this post.