Futures Rebound After Job Growth Shortfall

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures pointed to a weaker open Friday as December job growth missed expectations, although a much better-than-expected unemployment rate of 9.4% kept disappointment in check.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down by 9 points, or 5 points below fair value, at 11,637. Futures for the S&P 500 were lower by 2 points, or nearly 2 points below fair value, at 1,268, and Nasdaq futures were down by 2 points, or 1 point below fair value.

The Labor Department said the U.S. economy added 103,000 jobs in December, falling short of the 150,000 additions that economists had been expecting, according to Briefing.com. The unemployment rate, however, fell to a better-than-expected rate of 9.4%, from 9.8%, previously, outpacing estimates for a December rate of 9.7%. Private payrolls rose by 113,000, well under Wall Street's projections for growth of 162,000. In November, private payrolls increased by 79,000.

December hourly earnings inched up by 0.1%, as expected, after remaining flat in November, and the average workweek held steady at 34.3 hours, meeting expectations.
Unemployment

Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.4% and Japan's Nikkei added 0.1%. London's FTSE was losing 0.3% while the DAX in Frankfurt was ahead by 0.3%.

Stocks saw a mixed close Thursday as strength across the technology sector lifted the Nasdaq while the other major U.S. indices slumped on weak December retail sales and an uptick in initial jobless claims.

At 3 p.m., the Federal Reserve will release its consumer credit report for November. Economists expect consumer credit to contract by $2.5 billion after expanding by $3.4 billion in October.

Shares of American International Group ( AIG) were up 2.5% to $61.96 ahead of Friday's opening bell on news that the company agreed to pay $450 million to resolve legal disputes with competitors, according to a Wall Street Journal report. On Friday, AIG's board declared a dividend of about 75 million warrants to buy shares of AIG common stock at $45 a share.

Borders Group ( BGP) is working to refinance its debt. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the company is in talks restructuring advisors including Jefferies & Co., and is also discussing the possibility of a new debt agreement with one of its lenders, GE Capital. The stock rose 18.5% to $1.02 in premarket trading Friday.

Liz Claiborne ( LIZ) saw its stock slump 17.4% to $6.90 ahead of Friday's opening bell. Late Thursday, the company lowered its profit outlook on weak December sales for some of its key brands.

In commodity markets, the February crude oil contract was trading 34 cents higher at $88.72 a barrel. The February gold contract was down by $13.10 to trade at $1,358.60 an ounce.

The dollar strengthened against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index up by 0.2%. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note weakened 8/32, lifting the yield to 3.435%.

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--Written by Melinda Peer in New York.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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