Traders work on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Stock futures changed little in night trading Thursday as investors waited for a key November job report to measure the pace of the labor market's recovery amid a worsening pandemic.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 20 points. S&P 500 futures were little changed and Nasdaq 100 futures traded 0.1% higher.
The rate of job growth likely slowed in November as the number of new coronavirus cases increased and resulted in new lockdown restrictions. The US economy is expected to create 440,000 jobs, up from 638,000 in October, according to the Dow Jones. The unemployment rate fell from 6.9% to 6.7%.
Recent weekly jobless claims hit a low in the pandemic, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Initial unemployment benefits were 712,000 last week, compared to 787,000 the week before and the Dow Jones estimate of 780,000. Still, claims remained well above the pre-pandemic record.
"Layoffs have improved slightly, but make no mistake. Storm clouds are on the horizon if Congress doesn't help extend gig worker and advanced benefit unemployment benefits that are phasing out later this year," Said Chris Rupkey, financial economist at MUFG, in a note.
On Thursday, the exchange was hit by a report detailing the launch of the Pfon coronavirus vaccine. Key averages quickly fell to their lows after Dow Jones reported that Pfizer expects to ship half of the Covid-19 vaccines originally planned for this year due to problems in the supply chain.
Still, Pfizer and BioNtech are well on their way to bringing 1.3 billion vaccines to market in 2021, and the 50 million dose shortage this year will be covered if production ramped up, the report said.
The S&P 500 fell slightly on Thursday after closing on records for two days in a row. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 85 points, helped by a surge in Boeing stocks. The Nasdaq Composite returned 0.2% from a record intraday high.
Elsewhere, investors closely watched progress toward a business cycle deal as lawmakers pushed hard to break a stalemate in order to stimulate an economy that continues to be hit by the pandemic.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke on the phone Thursday for the first time since at least the presidential election. Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, minority chairmen of the Senate, backed a non-partisan stimulus package of $ 908 billion, while McConnell released his own plan of roughly $ 500 billion.
Subscribe to CNBC PRO for exclusive insights and analysis as well as live business day programs from around the world.