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Stock futures rise, point to higher opening

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[April 20, 2010]  NEW YORK (AP) -- Stock futures are rising Thursday on new signs of economic growth worldwide.

InsuranceOverseas markets all rose after upbeat reports showed growth in manufacturing in China and the 16-country bloc that uses the euro. A separate report showed companies in Japan are more confident about the business climate.

Manufacturing will be in focus once the U.S. markets open as well. Reports on initial jobless claims and auto sales will also likely drive trading throughout the day.

A fresh reading of the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index is expected to show the sector expanded for the eighth straight month after 18 months of contraction.


Economists polled by Thomson Reuters predict the ISM's index rose to 57 in March from 56.5 a month earlier. A reading above 50 indicates growth.

The manufacturing sector has shown some of the most consistent, steady growth since the country began to emerge from recession, unlike the housing and jobs markets that have been more uneven.

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

Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 48, or 0.4 percent, to 10,845. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures rose 4.60, or 0.4 percent, to 1,169.80, while Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 3.25, or 0.2 percent, to 1,959.00.

A separate report from the Labor Department is expected to show initial claims for jobless benefits dipped slightly. Economists predict first-time claims fell by 2,000 to 440,000 last week.

The weekly report comes a day ahead of the government's monthly report on jobs and a day after a payroll company said employers cut private-sector jobs last month.

Stocks are trying to rebound after a disappointing end to an otherwise strong first quarter. Major indexes retreated Wednesday after payroll company ADP said private-sector employers cut 23,000 jobs in March. Economists had predicted ADP's jobs report would show 40,000 jobs were added to payrolls last month.

The ADP report is often used as an early indicator of the Labor Department's employment report, which will be released Friday. However, there can be wide variations because ADP only accounts for private-sector jobs.

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Economists predict the Labor Department will say employers added 190,000 jobs last month, which would be only the second month of jobs growth since the recession began.

The Dow dropped 0.5 percent, while the S&P 500 fell 0.3 percent.

The declines slightly dampened a very strong first quarter. Stocks have consistently climbed in recent months as investors become more confident the economy is improving, though the growth is slow.

The Dow gained 4.1 percent for the quarter, its best first-quarter performance since 1999. Small, daily gains replaced the big triple-digit moves that defined the market's rally throughout much of 2009 as major indexes hit 12-year lows in March of that year.

The S&P 500 jumped 4.9 percent during the first quarter.

Meanwhile, bond prices fell Thursday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 3.84 percent from 3.83 percent late Wednesday.


The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold and oil rose.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 1.4 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.9 percent, Germany's DAX index gained 0.9 percent, and France's CAC-40 rose 1.2 percent.

[Associated Press; By STEPHEN BERNARD]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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