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US futures rise sharply ahead of jobs report

FILE - In this Monday, March 4, 2013, file photo, traders work at the New York Stock Exchange, in New York. A positive jobs report that pushed the Dow to another record high this week and better-than-expected Chinese exports helped boost world stock markets Friday March 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, file)

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stock futures are heading higher ahead of the February jobs report that is expected to show employers continue to bolster staffing as the economy recovers.

Dow Jones industrial futures are up 44 points to 14,300. S&P futures have added 5.1 points to 1,542.80. Nasdaq futures are up 7.5 points to 2,802.50.

Economists expect that the U.S. added 152,000 jobs last month, but some warn that the number could come in a little softer Friday, given extreme weather conditions last month.

A weekly jobs report Thursday appeared to bolster optimism that the Labor Department would signal continued hiring, and perhaps even reveal a downtick in the unemployment rate. Unemployment has remained mired at 7.8 percent or higher since September.

The government also releases the wholesale inventory report for January on Friday.