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Stock futures mixed ahead of economic data

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[January 08, 2009]  NEW YORK (AP) -- Wall Street headed for a mixed open Thursday, bracing for what are expected to be more bleak data on employment and retail sales.

The market anticipates that the Labor Department will report that the number of new claims for jobless benefits jumped last week to 540,000 from 492,000 in the previous week, according to the median estimate of economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters/IFR.

CivicInvestors are also anxious about December sales figures from major retailers. Many analysts forecast that last month's sales will be better than November's, but they are still expected to be poor.

As readings on the job market and consumer spending worsen, most on Wall Street are hoping that a stimulus package proposed by President-elect Barack Obama will get congressional approval. Obama said Thursday the nation's recession could "linger for years" unless Congress acts, according to the text of a speech to be delivered at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

Ahead of the market's open, Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 14 points, or 0.16 percent, to 8,730. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures fell 2.10 points, or 0.23 percent, to 903.10, but Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 2.75, or 0.22 percent, to 1,242.25.

In corporate news, computer maker Dell Inc. said it would slash 1,900 jobs in Ireland, while Lenovo Group, another computer maker, warned it expects a loss for its latest quarter and will lay off 2,500, or 11 percent, of its work force worldwide


On Wednesday, the Dow fell 245 points on worries about unemployment and a warning from technology giant Intel about poor business conditions.

Government bond prices were mostly higher in premarket trading Wednesday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, slipped to 2.47 percent from 2.50 percent late Wednesday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, rose to 0.12 percent from 0.11 percent.

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The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices fell.

Crude oil prices rose 58 cents to $43.21 a barrel in premarket electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In Asian trading, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 3.93 percent, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 3.81 percent. In late morning trading in Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 fell 1.33 percent, Germany's DAX index fell 1.48 percent, and France's CAC-40 fell 1.75 percent.


On the Net:

New York Stock Exchange: http://www.nyse.com/

Nasdaq Stock Market: http://www.nasdaq.com/

[Associated Press; By MADLEN READ]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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