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After righting a listing ship, investors sat still early Friday ahead of an employment report that could set the tone for weeks to come.

Index futures recently showed the

S&P 500

trading at fair value, while the Nasdaq 100 was set for a 2-point gain. The 10-year Treasury note was unchanged in price to yield 5.10%, while the dollar was steady against the yen and euro.

On Thursday, late-session buying lifted U.S. stocks, leaving two of the three major indices above their level just prior to Tuesday's selloff. For the session, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

gained 92 points, or 0.8%, to 11,260, while the S&P 500 gained 16 points, or 1.2% to 1286. The

Nasdaq Composite

surged 41 points, or 1.9%, to 2220. Of the three, only the Dow finished below its close of last Friday, which was 11,279.

Economists expect the Labor Department to say the economy added 170,000 jobs in May, while the unemployment rate held steady at 4.7% and average hourly earnings rose 0.3%. Deviation from those forecasts could fuel fears of either inflation or slowing growth, each with potentially bad implications for the stock market.

Overseas markets were higher, with London's FTSE 100 up 0.7% to 5790 and Germany's Xetra DAX gaining 1% to 5763. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei surged 1.8% overnight to 15,789, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 1.7% to 15,913.

Oil rose as U.S. officials stepped up the rhetoric against Iran, whose nuclear research program has become an international flashpoint.


quoted U.S. intelligence czar John Negroponte warning Friday that Iran could have a nuclear bomb by 2010. In electronic trading, July crude rose 46 cents to $70.80 a barrel.

In metals markets, gold rose $1.90 to $635.40 an ounce, copper gained 11 cents to $3.58 a pound, and silver rose 15 cents to $12.05 an ounce. Reports that China was preparing to dump copper in international markets triggered a selloff in all three metals Thursday, although gold and silver pared their decline by the close.

In corporate news Friday,

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has a definitive agreement to merge with European exchange operator Euronext in a deal worth a little more than $10 billion. The transaction still needs shareholder and regulatory approvals.


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slashed second-quarter and full-year earnings guidance due to a 29% year-over-year decline in April and May new orders. The homebuilder cited an inventory glut, more cancellations and rising interest rates.

Another builder,


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, was downgraded Friday by JMP Securities, which cited margin pressure. Hovnanian shares rose about 4% on Thursday following a second-quarter earnings beat.

The jostling for


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consumer healthcare business is picking up, with


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reportedly preparing a $15 billion bid. The unit does generates nearly $4 billion in revenue from over-the-counter products like antacids.

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said a court order terminating its contract with could cost it as much as $50 million in operating profit this year. Amazon is appealing the ruling, which governed a distribution contract.


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said same-store sales rose 7% in May, roughly matching forecasts, as blended drinks and food sales drove traffic. Overall sales rose 23% to $613 million.