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Stock futures edge higher, payrolls in focusUS-MARKETS-STOCKS:Stock futures edge higher, payrolls in focus
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock index futures were mostly higher ahead of a crucial report on the labor market on Friday, a day after the S&P 500 ended at its highest level since before the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.
The fresh U.S. jobs tally will be released at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT), a week after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke left the door open to more monetary stimulus and described the labor market's stagnation as a "grave concern."
Employers are expected to have increased payrolls by 125,000 workers last month, according to a Reuters survey of economists, a step down from July's 163,000-job gain. The unemployment rate is seen holding steady at 8.3 percent.
It is "my belief that the Fed will act with more accommodation next week irrespective of today's August Payroll figure either strong, weak or something in between," said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist and portfolio manager at Miller Tabak & Co in New York.
Lifting the market mood, China gave the green light for 60 infrastructure projects this week worth more than 1 trillion yuan ($157 billion), or 2.1 percent of China's gross domestic product. And data showed German exports unexpectedly edged up in July and imports rose even more, suggesting Europe's largest economy remains relatively resilient to the euro zone crisis.
S&P 500 futures rose 5 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 26 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures were flat.
On Thursday, the S&P 500 ended at its best level since May 2008 while the Nasdaq hit a 12-year high.
Stock markets in Europe and Asia rallied on Friday, and yields on the debt of struggling euro zone nations fell as investors welcomed the European Central Bank's latest bond-buying plan and positioned for a strong U.S. jobs report.
The euro rose broadly on Friday as Spanish 10-year bond yields fell below 6 percent for the first time since May, helped by the ECB plan to lower borrowing costs for indebted euro zone countries.
American International Group Inc <AIG.N> said it raised $2.02 billion through the sale of a partial stake in its former Asian unit AIA Group Ltd <1299.HK>, placing the shares at a surprise premium although analysts were disappointed at the size of the sale.
Apple Inc <AAPL.O> has reduced its orders for memory chips for its new iPhone from its main supplier and competitor Samsung Electronics Co <005930.KS>, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said on Friday.
SunTrust Banks Inc <STI.N> has accelerated a planned sale of Coca-Cola Co <KO.N> shares it owns in a move that it said will produce a $1.9 billion pre-tax gain and reduce volatility in its capital ratios.
Gunmaker Smith & Wesson Holding Corp <SWHC.O> raised its full-year sales forecast as it expects to continue tapping growing demand for guns in the United States and boosting production capacity.
Kraft Foods Inc <KFT.O> warned on Thursday that 2013 earnings for its standalone international snack company would likely be lower than some forecasts due to unfavorable foreign exchange rates.
(Editing by Dave Zimmerman)
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