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Stock futures point to higher opening

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[October 05, 2009]  NEW YORK (AP) -- Stock futures rose Monday, pointing to a higher opening as the market tries to rebound from two consecutive weeks of declines as disappointing economic news mounts.

Investors will examine a report on business activity in the services sector for signs of an improving economy. Beginning Wednesday, traders will begin to sort through quarterly profit reports as Alcoa Inc. kicks off earnings season.

Asian markets declined overnight, while European stocks were narrowly mixed.

The Institute for Supply Management's service index reading for September is expected to improve to 50, which would be its highest level of the year, according to economists polled by Thomson Reuters. The index reached 48.4 in August. A reading below 50 indicates the sector is shrinking, while a reading above 50 indicates growth.

Growth in the services sector is considered important to a recovery because it is highly dependent on consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of all economic activity.

The report is due out at 10 a.m. EDT.

Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 34, or 0.4 percent, to 9,469. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures rose 4.60, or 0.5 percent, to 1,026.30, while Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 8.75, or 0.5 percent, to 1,671.00.

Beginning Wednesday, investors will start to receive quarterly earnings reports that should provide further insight into any rebound. Alcoa kicks off earnings season, and investors will be looking for signs of growth to put at ease recent concerns about the strength of a rebound.

Companies were able to mostly beat modest profit expectations in the second quarter primarily because of cost reductions and job cuts. Now traders will be looking for signs of growth in revenue and sales to generate better profits.

Stocks are trying to move back into positive territory after two consecutive weeks of declines -- the first back-to-back drops since July. The market has fallen seven of the past eight days as key economic data has disappointed investors and showed any recovery might be slow and choppy.

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On Friday, a worse-than-expected monthly jobs report further shook investors' confidence. The Labor Department said employers cut 263,000 jobs, much more than the 180,000 anticipated by economists. The jobs report is closely watched because employment growth is considered vital to a sustained recovery.

Meanwhile, bond prices were mostly higher Monday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 3.20 percent from 3.22 percent late Friday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, was flat at 0.09 percent.

The dollar mostly declined against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average declined 0.6 percent. In afternoon trading, Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.1 percent, Germany's DAX index gained 0.1 percent, and France's CAC-40 gained 0.1 percent.

[Associated Press; By STEPHEN BERNARD]

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




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