Stock futures edge higher on February job gains

Stock futures edge up on news economy added 227,000 jobs in February; no boost from Greece

Associated Press
Stocks rise on hiring gains, Greek debt progress
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In this Feb. 28, 2012 photo, a pair of specialists work at their post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. U.S. stock market futures edged higher Friday, March 9, 2012, after the government released positive jobs numbers for February. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stock market futures edged higher Friday after the government released encouraging jobs numbers for February.

Dow Jones industrial average futures added 31 points to 12,875. Standard and Poor's 500 futures edged up 2.9 points to 1,363.50. Nasdaq 100 futures gained 4.5 to 2,637.

Trading was flat heading into the 8:30 a.m. data release, as the success of a huge debt swap in Greece failed to ignite the markets.

Following weeks of intense negotiations, private creditors agreed to the biggest national debt writedown in history for Greece, with 83.5 percent of the bondholders agreeing to swap their holdings for new bonds worth far less. The deal clears the way for the nation's second bailout in as many years, and helps Greece avoid default, which could have happened in two weeks.

European markets were muted. The German DAX edged up 0.4 percent, while in France the CAC 40 added 0.3 percent. In London, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares posted a bigger rally, rising 1.2 percent.

In the U.S., employers added 227,000 jobs in February, to complete three of the best months of hiring since the recession began. Manufacturing, mining, and professional services, such as accounting, all added jobs.

The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 8.3 percent, holding at the lowest rate in three years. That was partly because more people who had given up finding a job started looking for work again, a positive sign for the economy.

The Labor Department also said 61,000 more jobs were added in January than previously thought, and layoffs tapered off.

Separately, the Commerce Department said the U.S. trade deficit surged in January to the widest imbalance in more than three years as imports hit an all-time high.

Among U.S. stocks to watch Friday are Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc., which slumped more than 14 percent after its larger rival, Starbucks Corp., said it would start selling single-cup coffee machines. That could sabotage Green Mountain's Keurig machines. Starbucks shares added 3.5 percent.

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