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Stock futures little changed ahead of jobs report

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[June 04, 2010]  NEW YORK (AP) -- Stock futures traded in a narrow range Friday as investors avoid making any big bets before a key report on employment.

Traders will be looking to see how many jobs the country added last month. Economists expect employers added more workers than any month since September 1983, but those numbers were probably inflated by temporary government jobs tied to the census.

The unemployment rate likely dipped to 9.8 percent in May from 9.9 percent a month earlier, according to economists polled by Thomson Reuters. However, that number could creep higher again in the coming months as more people try to find work as the economy slowly improves.

Economists forecast the country added 513,000 jobs last month, a big jump from the 290,000 in April. But as many as 400,000 of those jobs could come from government hiring of census workers.


That temporary hiring means traders will likely look beyond the headline number to see how many jobs private employers added during the month. A report from payroll company ADP on Thursday said private companies added 55,000 jobs in May.

Because of the influx of temporary workers, economists forecasts for job growth vary widely. Among those polled by Thomson Reuters, predictions range from 175,000 jobs added last month to as many as 750,000.

The Labor Department's monthly employment report, which is due out at 8:30 a.m. EDT, is considered the biggest economic indicators on the calendar each month because unemployment is one of the biggest obstacles to a strong, sustained recovery.

More people working, even temporarily, means consumer spending will likely rise in the coming months. Consumer spending is the primary driver of economic activity in the country.

Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 7, or 0.1 percent, to 10,251. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures fell 0.30, or less than 0.1 percent, to 1,103.30, while Nasdaq 100 index futures dropped 4.00, or 0.2 percent, to 1,893.75.

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Major indexes will try to extend gains for a third straight day. The Dow rose about 6 points after a 226-point surge a day earlier.

However, markets have been erratic for more than a month and prone to big swings sometimes even within a single trading session. Worries about whether mounting debt problems in some European countries will upend an economic recovery and the spreading oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have pushed stocks from their 2010 highs set in late April.

The euro, which is used by 16 countries in Europe, inched higher Friday to $1.2162. However, it remains near its four-year low of $1.2112, which is set Tuesday. The euro has become an indicator for investors' confidence in Europe's economy. It has also consistently driven trading in Europe and the U.S. for the past month.

Overseas, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.8 percent, Germany's DAX index gained 0.9 percent, and France's CAC-40 rose 0.6 percent.

Meanwhile, U.S. Treasury prices traded in a narrow range as investors wait for the jobs report. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, was unchanged at 3.37 percent compared with late Thursday.

[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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