By Liz Moyer
Investing.com -- Stocks were mixed on Wednesday as investors considered the odds of a bigger-than-expected interest rate hike this month.
The Federal Reserve is watching Friday's jobs report for February closely as it makes its decision about rates, with many futures traders now a half-percentage point increase given what Chair Jerome Powell told Congress this week.
Powell said the Fed was prepared to quicken the pace of rate hikes if the data supported the move. Already private payroll and job opening data came out stronger than expected, giving the central bank the argument that it has to continue to move aggressively to tame inflation.
Analysts expect the economy added 205,000 jobs last month, but they are also waiting to see if January's red-hot 517,000 number will be revised. On Wednesday, the Fed's Beige Book , which is a periodic survey of district banks about economic conditions, reported still-tight labor conditions across the country.
Before that, Thursday features unemployment data for the prior week and Challenger's latest report on job cuts.
Here are three things that could affect markets tomorrow:
1. Jobless claims
The latest report on initial jobless claims is due out at 8:30 ET (13:30 GMT). Analysts are expecting a number of 195,000. Before that, the Challenger report on job cuts for February comes out at 7:30.
2. Oracle earnings
Oracle Corporation (NYSE: ORCL ) is expected to report earnings per share of $1.21 on revenue of $12.4 billion. Analysts will be listening to its outlook for cloud computing services.
3. Ulta earnings
Cosmetics and beauty product retailer Ulta Beauty Inc (NASDAQ: ULTA ) is expected to report earnings per share of $5.63 on revenue of $3.02B. Analysts will be listening for what it says about consumer spending.
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