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Investors bid up stocks ahead of key jobs report

Published: February 1, 2013 | 9:06 am
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LONDON – U.S. stock futures were starting the new month with gains ahead of the release of a closely watched government report that will detail how many jobs were added to the U.S. economy in January.

Ahead of Friday’s update from the Labor Department, stock futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average index advanced 0.2% to 13, 830. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 0.3% to 1,497. The Nasdaq-100 benchmark moved up 0.3% at 2,734.

Economists expect payrolls to increase by 164,000, up from a 155,000 rise in December, according to Bespoke Investment Group. But that modest increase isn’t expected to lower the unemployment rate, which Wall Street expects to stay put at 7.8%, Bespoke says.

On Thursday, the major U.S. stock indexes drifted lower, backing away from new highs. At the close, the Dow lost 0.43%, the S&P 500 shed 0.3% and the Nasdaq composite index reversed course late in the trading session and ended down less than a point.

The Dow gained 5.8% in January and the S&P 500 jumped 5.1% for the month. Both indexes are within shouting distance of setting all-time highs although it may be months before the records are broken.

Asian stock markets were mixed Friday, although losses were stanched by Wall Street’s overall sterling performance for January.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index, meanwhile, was once again energized by the yen’s continued descent against the dollar. It rose 0.5% to 11,191.

In Europe, the benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 index was flat, staying on the sidelines ahead of the U.S. jobs report.

The price of oil saw gains Friday, up 0.2% to $97.66 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The Associated Press

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