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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 Monday following a jobs report that has boosted expectations for an economic recovery.

The Labor Department said Friday employers added 162,000 jobs in March. It was the biggest gains since the recession began in December 2007. However, it still fell short of the 190,000 jobs economists predicted would be added.

The stock market was closed Friday, so investors did not have a chance to trade based on the report before the weekend.

Private employers accounted for most of the gains. Traders are encouraged that the biggest hurdle to a sustained recovery could be turning positive. Temporary hiring for the 2010 U.S. census did not pad the figures as much as economists had forecast, which helped keep the figure below expectations.

The unemployment rate remained at 9.7 percent for the third straight month.

High unemployment is considered a key stumbling block to a strong, sustained recovery because it keeps consumers from spending and loan defaults elevated. The financial sector would get a big boost from a drop in loan losses, while consumer spending accounts for the majority of economic activity in the country.

A private trade group's measure of the service sector, which covers 80 percent of non-farm jobs in the country, is due out later Monday. It is expected to show growth in the sector.

Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 26, or 0.2 percent, to 10,886. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures rose 2.60, or 0.2 percent, to 1,176.30, while Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 10.75, or 0.6 percent, to 1,962.75.

Stock futures rose in an abbreviated session of electronic trading on Friday before closing early for Good Friday.

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The upbeat jobs report sent the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note to its highest level since just before the credit crisis erupted in late 2008. The yield, which moves opposite its price, rose to 3.96 percent from 3.94 percent late Friday.

It has not eclipsed 4 percent since October 2008.

The Institute for Supply Management's service index should provide further positive signs for the economy. Economists forecast the index likely rose to 54 last month from 53 in February.

A reading above 50 indicates growth in the sector. That threshold was broken in September for the first time in 13 months, but growth in the service sector remains uneven.

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

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 0.5 percent. European markets were closed for the Easter holiday.

[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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