Futures little changed as investors await jobs data

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[March 04, 2016]  By Abhiram Nandakumar

(Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Friday ahead of the crucial monthly nonfarm payrolls data.

* The Labor Department's report is expected to show an addition of 190,000 jobs in February and that the rate of unemployment remained at an eight-year low. The data is due at 8:30 a.m. ET.

* An upbeat jobs report will add to a recent string of positive data that points to a modest recovery in the U.S. economic growth, and strengthen the Federal Reserve's case to gradually raise interest rates this year.

* With corporate earnings winding down, investors will now focus on macro-economic data as they wait for the Fed's next move. The central bank's rate-setting committee is scheduled to meet on March 15-16.

* Stock markets worldwide edged higher as investor concerns about a weakening global economy eased, following encouraging data from major economies this week. Crude prices rose slightly.

* Wall Street closed higher on Thursday as the energy sector moved into positive territory for the year.

* Also due at 8:30 is data by the Commerce Department that is likely to show the trade deficit widened to $44 billion in January from $43.4 billion in December.

* Shares of Hewlett Packard Enterprise was up 8.1 percent at $13.60 premarket after the company reported better-than-expected profit and revenue.

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Futures snapshot at 6:55 a.m. ET:

* Dow e-minis were up 24 points, or 0.14 percent, with 16,962 contracts changing hands.

* S&P 500 e-minis were up 2.25 points, or 0.11 percent, with 128,016 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 10.5 points, or 0.24 percent, on volume of 15,990 contracts.

(Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)

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