Stock futures edge lower; focus on jobs data

March 9th, 20129:53 am @

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Fri Mar 9, 2012 4:24am EST

(Reuters) – Stock index futures pointed to a slightly lower open for equities on Wall Street on Friday, with futures for the SP 500, the Dow Jones and the Nasdaq 100 falling up to 0.2 percent.

The Labor Department releases its February employment report at 1330 GMT. Economists forecast 210,000 jobs were created during the month, compared with 243,0000 new jobs in January. The unemployment rate is seen at 8.3 percent, a repeat of the January rate.

The Commerce Department releases at 1330 GMT its January International Trade report. Economists expect a trade deficit of $49.0 billion in January, versus a deficit of $48.80 billion in December.

The Commerce Department also releases wholesale inventories for January, due at 1500 GMT, with economists forecasting a rise of 0.6 percent, versus a gain of 1.0 percent in December.

Carnival Corp (CCL.N) (CCL.L), the world’s biggest cruise operator, releases its first-quarter earnings. In January the Miami-based company said the Costa Concordia cruise ship catastrophe would wipe up to $175 million from its profit this year.

General Motors (GM.N) and Italian carmaker Fiat (FIA.MI) talked briefly about merging their European businesses earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal said on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The Justice Department has warned Apple (AAPL.O) and five major U.S. publishers that it plans to sue them, accusing them of colluding to raise the prices of electronic books, a person familiar with the probe said on Thursday.

Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) said its 2012 oil and natural gas output would drop 3 percent from last year even as it increases spending to bring several large new projects on line, and its shares fell 1.2 percent.

A South African court on Friday largely dismissed an appeal from government and unions to roll back approval for Wal-Mart’s (WMT.N) $2.4 billion acquisition of Massmart (MSMJ.J), ending months of speculation about the future of the deal.

Shares in Texas Instruments Inc (TXN.O) were down 2.3 percent after the bell on Thursday after the company presented its first-quarter outlook. Aeropostale Inc (ARO.N) was down 2.4 percent after the release of its results.

China’s annual consumer inflation slowed sharply to a 20-month low in February, and factory output and retail sales also cooled more than forecast, giving policymakers ample room to further loosen monetary policy to support flagging growth.

European stocks .FTEU3 rose slightly in early trade, climbing for a third day in a row, after Greece’s private creditors accepted its bond swap offer.

Greece claimed a major success for its bond swap offer to private creditors on Friday after it won heavy acceptance for a deal that averts the immediate risk of an uncontrolled default on its massive public debt. European leaders will take the final decision on the second bailout package for Greece in a teleconference later on Friday.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI gained 70.61 points, or 0.55 percent, to 12,907.94 at the close on Thursday. The Standard Poor’s 500 Index .SPX rose 13.28 points, or 0.98 percent, to 1,365.91. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC advanced 34.73 points, or 1.18 percent, to close at 2,970.42.

(Reporting By Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/tzP2azQQOvg/us-markets-stocks-idUSTRE81K0CU20120309