NEW YORK -
Wall Street was set for a higher open on Friday on hopes that a weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs report may boost chances that the Federal Reserve will launch another round of economic stimulus.
But gains were seen limited as Wall Street ended at multi-year highs on Thursday, with the S&P closing at its highest level since before the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.
Nonfarm payrolls increased only 96,000 last month, the Labor Department said on Friday. While the unemployment rate dropped to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent in July, it was largely due to Americans giving up the search for work.
The weak figures set the stage for the Fed, which meets next week, to pump additional money into the sluggish economy. The job numbers also dealt a blow to President Barack Obama as he seeks re-election in November.
"It was a decidedly negative report due to the meager number of jobs created in August and the downward revision for the two prior months," said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC in New York.
"However, the data are clearly disappointing enough to allow for a third round of quantitative easing."
S&P 500 futures rose 3.1 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 17 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 0.75 point.
On Thursday, the S&P 500 ended at its best level since May 2008 while the Nasdaq hit a 12-year high.
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China gave the green light for 60 infrastructure projects this week worth more than 1 trillion yuan ($157 billion), or 2.1 percent of China's gross domestic product. And data showed German exports unexpectedly edged up in July and imports rose even more, suggesting Europe's largest economy remains relatively resilient to the euro zone crisis.
(Editing by Dave Zimmerman)