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Stock futures mixed ahead of GDP, jobs data

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[August 28, 2008]  NEW YORK (AP) -- Wall Street headed for a narrowly mixed open Thursday as investors awaited key government readings on U.S. economic growth and unemployment.

Investors expect the Commerce Department to report that the economy strengthened slightly in the second quarter, boosted by robust U.S. exports and a bump at the retail level from government tax rebates. Gross domestic product, or GDP, was expected to rise at an annualized rate of 2.7 percent for the April-June period, according to economists surveyed by Thomson/IFR.

Investors closely watch GDP to determine whether the economy is picking up momentumm after being pounded by housing woes and a debilitating credit crisis. The economy grew at a weak rate of 0.9 percent in the first quarter. The Commerce Department report is due at 8:30 a.m. EDT.

Investors are also watching for a report on U.S. jobless claims. The Labor Department is expected to show the number of newly laid off people seeking unemployment benefits fell for a third consecutive week as the impact of a federal outreach program wanes. New claims for the week ending Aug. 23 are expected to fall to 427,000 from a seasonally-adjusted level of 432,000 in the prior week.

That would be the third straight drop since claims jumped to a six-year high earlier this month. However, claims above 400,000 suggest the economy is slowing, according to economists. The report is scheduled to be released at 8:30 am EDT.

The Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 1, or 0.01 percent, at 11,498.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index futures fell 0.40, or 0.03 percent, to 1,281.70, and the Nasdaq 100 index futures fell 3, or 0.16, to 1,898.75.

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Bonds fell. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which trades opposite its price, rose to 3.79 percent from 3.77 percent late Wednesday. The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.

Investors are also watching oil prices as Tropical Storm Gustav churns toward the Gulf of Mexico.

Light, sweet crude rose $1.10 cents to $119.25 in premarket electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 0.12 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 was up 1.05 percent, Germany's DAX index was down 0.30 percent, and France's CAC-40 was up 1.65 percent.


On the Net:

New York Stock Exchange: http://www.nyse.com/

Nasdaq Stock Market: http://www.nasdaq.com/

[Associated Press; By STEVENSON JACOBS]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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