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Stock futures near unchanged ahead of jobs report

7:38 AM, Jan 4, 2013   |    comments
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange earlier this week.(Photo: Stephen Chernin, AFP/Getty)
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LONDON -- U.S. stock futures on Friday hovered near unchanged with a modest downward bias ahead of a U.S. Department of Labor report that may provide fresh clues to the health of the economy.

Dow Jones Industrial Average index futures lost 0.1% to 13,308. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was trading down 0.01% at 1,453 ahead of the market open. Nasdaq-100 index futures were up slightly -- by 0.1% -- to sit near the 2,728 level.

Wall Street stocks reacted poorly Thursday to minutes from the most recent meeting of the Federal Reserve that showed opinion was divided over how long the central bank should keep in place its program of economy-supporting bond purchases. The Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq all ended Thursday's session with losses.

On Friday, market attention may turn to the government's December jobs report.

Economists are forecasting that employers added about 155,000 jobs in December, according to a survey by FactSet. That would be slightly higher than November's 148,000. The unemployment rate is projected to remain at 7.7%.

The employment data are due at 8:30 a.m. ET, and will add context to jobs reports released Thursday that showed private-sector employers added a better-than-forecast 215,000 jobs in December, although weekly applications for unemployment benefits moved higher, to 372,000.

In Japan, the nation's benchmark Nikkei 225 leaped nearly 3% as the stock index, closed over the recent holiday period, was given its first opportunity to react to the news of a deal over the so-called fiscal cliff in Washington. A weakening yen was also a factor helping to push Japanese stocks higher. Major markets in the rest of the Asia-Pacific region declined.

In Europe, stocks were tilting lower before the U.S. market open.

USA Today

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