Stock Futures Higher After Modest Jobs Gains

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were pointing to a higher open for Wall Street Friday despite some lukewarm jobs numbers.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were rising 99 points, or 97.42 points above fair value, at 13,896. Futures for the S&P 500 were up 9.25 points, or 9.14 points above fair value, at 1502. Futures for the Nasdaq were rising 18.50 points, or 18.47 points above fair value, at 2743.

Major U.S. stock averages fell Thursday as doubts about the strength of the U.S. economy weighed on investors' minds.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday that 157,000 jobs were added to payrolls in January; figures for December were revised higher to 196,000. On average, economists expected 160,000 jobs to be added in January.

The unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9% from 7.8%. Economists expected the rate to remain at 7.8%.

"The upward revisions make this a firm report, but this month isn't that impressive with a dip in the work week, steady year-over-year earnings and the uptick in unemployment which is, of course, what the Fed is focusing on," said David Ader, a strategist at CRT.

A gain of 166,000 was recorded for nonfarm private payrolls for January, versus an upwardly revised 202,000 for December. Expectations were for an increase of 165,000.

Hourly earnings rose by an as-expected 0.2% compared with 0.3% in December. The average work week edged lower to 34.4 hours, from a downwardly revised 34.4 the prior month.

The final read on The Reuters/University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index for January is predicted to come in at 71.5, up from the prior estimate of 71.3. The report will be released at 9:55 a.m. EST.

The ISM Manufacturing Survey is expected at 10 a.m.; it's predicted to fall to to 50.6 in January from 50.7 in December.

At the same time, the Census Bureau is forecast to report that construction spending rose 0.6% in December after falling 0.3% in November.

The Nikkei in Japan settled up by 0.47% Friday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed down 0.03%.

The DAX in Frankfurt was rising 0.58% and the FTSE in London was gaining 0.59%.

Gold for April delivery was rising $4.30 at $1,666.30 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while March crude oil futures were down 23 cents at $97.26 a barrel.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was off 4/32, lifting the yield to 2.004%. The dollar was falling 0.3%, according to the U.S. dollar index .

In corporate news, Exxon Mobil ( XOM), the world's biggest oil company, reported fourth-quarter earnings of $2.20 a share, beating the Wall Street target of $2 a share amid profit margin strength in its refining business.

Revenue came in at $115.17 billion, compared with estimates of $117.25 billion.

Shares were up 0.7% in premarket trading.

Chevron ( CVX) posted fourth-quarter earnings of $3.70 a share versus the average analyst estimate of earnings of $3.04 a share amid improvements in its downstream operations. Results in the 2012 period included a gain of $1.4 billion from an upstream asset exchange. Shares were up a third of a percentage point.

Drugmaker Merck ( MRK) posted fourth-quarter earnings of 83 cents a share on revenue of $11.7 billion, beating the average analyst estimate of 81 cents a share on revenue of $11.48 billion.

The company said that it expects full-year 2013 revenue to be near 2012 levels on a constant currency basis, and that at current exchange rates sales would be affected unfavorably by about 1% to 2%.

Shares were sliding more than 2%.

Mattel ( MAT), the toy company, posted fourth-quarter earnings of $1.12 a share, excluding a litigation charge, on revenue of $2.26 billion, below the average analyst estimate of earnings $1.15 a share on revenue of $2.29 billion as worldwide gross sales for the Entertainment business fell 13% primarily driven by decreases in the CARS 2 movie property and stiff competition from electronic device companies.

Shares were falling more than 2%.

Dell ( DELL), the PC maker, is close to an agreement to sell itself to a buyout group led by founder and CEO Michael Dell and private-equity firm Silver Lake Partners, Reuters reported, citing two people familiar with the matter.

A deal could possibly be announced as soon as Monday, Reuters reported.

Shares were popping more than 5%.

Bristol-Myers Squibb ( BMY) is seeking a buyer for a collection of brands in Mexico and Brazil that could fetch as much as $750 million, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Shares were trading sideways.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

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