Stocks hover before payrolls report

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Stock futures are hovering in a range before the key jobs report this morning.

S&P 500 futures are little-changed, while European indexes are modestly lower. Asians markets were also quiet in the overnight session, with the exception of Japan's Nikkei, which climbed after being closed for New Years.

Equities are consolidating in the wake of big rallies on Monday and Wednesday after U.S. politicians reached a budgetary deal to avert painful tax hikes and spending cuts. Attention is now focusing on the December non-farm payrolls report scheduled for 8:30 a.m. ET. Economists expect an increase of 150,000 jobs. Earlier reports this week have mostly shown mounting strength in the labor market.

Foreign-exchange markets and commodities are mixed but have a modestly bearish tone in general. Currencies associated with risk appetite, including the euro, Canadian dollar, and Australian dollar are lower against the greenback. The safe-haven Japanese yen, however, is down across the board.

Commodities are painting a more negative picture, with oil and copper both down by more than 1 percent. Gold fell by 2 percent and silver dropped 4 percent on worries that the Federal Reserve may slow bond purchases, thus reducing the allure of precious metals. Agricultural foodstuffs are moderately lower as well.

In company-specific news, medical-device stock Accuray is down by more than 20 percent after announcing weak revenue numbers and slashing its workforce. Plastics company A. Schulman climbed 3 percent yesterday afternoon on a strong quarterly report but hasn't traded yet this morning. Rovi may also be active after announcing it would divest its entertainment-store business.

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