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US stocks head for mixed open ahead of jobs data

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[July 03, 2008]  NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks headed for a mixed open Thursday ahead of the government's report on June employment that could offer insights into how well the economy is likely to fare in the coming months. The price of oil neared $146 for the first time, adding pressure to the stock market.

ChiropracticAn interest rate decision from the European Central Bank will also cap a holiday-shortened week for Wall Street.

Investors' focus will likely be on the Labor Department's employment report, expected to show the sixth month of jobs losses and only a slight improvement in the unemployment rate.

The data come on an abbreviated day for traders. The stock market closes three hours early, at 1 p.m. EDT, on ahead of the July 4th holiday on Friday.

Investors are nervous about the strength of the job market in part because consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity. Consumers who are out of work or are nervous about losing their job are likely to trim their spending.


And consumers and businesses alike are now grappling with surging fuel prices -- another stress on an economy already strapped by a weak housing market and a tight credit market.

That is making the price of oil an increasingly important factor in stock trading. Light, sweet crude rose $1.90 to $145.47 per barrel in premarket electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange but earlier rose as high as $145.85.

Dow Jones industrial average futures edged up 1, or 0.01 percent, to 11,212. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures rose 1.10, or 0.09 percent, to 1,263.90, while Nasdaq 100 index futures slipped 6.00, or 0.33 percent, to 1,819.00.

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Bond prices edged higher. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 3.95 percent from 3.96 percent late Wednesday.

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

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 0.16 percent. In morning trading, Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.40 percent, Germany's DAX index declined 0.80 percent, and France's CAC-40 fell 0.63 percent.


On the Net:

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

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

[Associated Press; By TIM PARADIS]

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



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