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) -- U.S. stock futures pointed to a fourth day of gains following advances in overseas markets as American companies added workers and announced fewer layoffs in August, according to new reports.

Futures for the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

were up 96 points, or 39 points above fair value at 11,549. Futures for the

S&P 500

were up by 12 points, or 5.1 points above fair value, at 1212, and


futures were ahead 19.2 points, or 8.8 points above fair value at 2237.

On Tuesday, stocks rallied for a third straight trading session, aided by the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee meeting that confirmed that the central bank had been discussing the possibility of further stimulus for the economy. The Dow has gained 3.7% in the last three days and has traded up six of the last seven sessions. To date, the blue chip is down 4.8% for the month of August and off 0.15% for the year.

The FTSE in London was rising 1% and the DAX in Frankfurt was gaining 1.2%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.6% while Japan's Nikkei added 0.01%.

In the U.S., investors are looking ahead to the government's highly anticipated monthly job report on Friday. Economists are expecting some 100,000 jobs added in August after gains of 117,000 in July. is expecting the unemployment rate to tick up to 9.2% from 9.1% in July.

A reading ahead of Friday's nonfarm payroll report this morning suggested modest job gains in August. Companies added 91,000 jobs in August, according to payroll processing firm Automatic Data Processing. The latest reading was below expectations for a 100,000 gain. July added a revised 109,000 numbers of jobs.

A separate report showed that the number of planned job cuts in August remains high even while declining slightly. The number of planned job cuts fell 23% in August, according to consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. A chunk of the reductions came from government worker layoffs.

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At 9:45 a.m., the Chicago Purchasing Managers' Index is expected to drop to a reading of 53 in August from a reading of 58.5 in July. Business orders and production in the Chicago region are expected to continue the slowdown seen the previous month, as the index dropped from July to June.

A report at 10 a.m. is expected to show that factory orders are rebounding. Economists are looking for a 1.8% increase in July, reversing a slip by 0.8% in the prior month.

Men's clothing retailer

JoS. A. Bank Clothiers


reported lower margins for the second quarter, but posted a strong


in earnings with same-store sales rising 14.7%. The company reported earnings of $20.6 million or 74 cents a share vs. the average analyst estimate of 68 cents a share. Shares were falling 3.7% to $45.50.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the nation's largest bank,

Bank of America


is planning to exit the correspondent mortgage business, through which it purchases mortgage loans originated by smaller lenders -- and then sells them -- while continuing to service the loans for a fee. According to the



pink slips

may be sent to as many as 1,000 employees as early as Wednesday.

The October crude oil contract was slipping by $1.13 to trade at $87.77 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodity markets, gold for December delivery was gaining $5.50 to trade at $1,835.40 an ounce.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was gaining 11/32, diluting the yield to 2.22%. The dollar weakened against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index slipping by 0.05%.

-- Written by Chao Deng in New York