Stock index futures rise, focus on jobs data

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February 1, 2013 8:49 PM EST

Stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street on Friday, with futures for the S&P 500, the Dow Jones and the Nasdaq 100 rising 0.4 to 0.5 percent.

U.S. job growth likely picked up modestly in January and the unemployment rate held steady, supporting views a sluggish economic recovery was on track despite a surprise contraction in the final three months of 2012.

Non-farm payrolls, due at 08.30 a.m. EST, are expected to have increased by 160,000 last month after rising 155,000 in December, according to a Reuters survey of economists. The jobless rate is expected to have held steady at 7.8 percent for a third straight month.

Exxon and Chevron, the two largest U.S. oil companies, are expected to post stronger quarterly results. Other major companies announcing results include Mattel and Merck & Co. .

Dell Inc is nearing an agreement to sell itself to a buyout consortium led by founder and Chief Executive Michael Dell and private equity firm Silver Lake Partners, possibly announcing a deal as soon as Monday, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Information services company Markit releases U.S. final Markit Manufacturing PMI for January at 1358 GMT. The index read 56.1 in preliminary (flash) January release.

MetLife Inc said it has agreed with Spain's BBVA to buy AFP Provida S.A., the largest private pension fund administrator in Chile, for about $2 billion in cash to expand its presence in emerging markets.

Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers release final January consumer sentiment index at 145 GMT. Economists in a Reuters survey expect a reading of 71.5 compared with 71.3 in the preliminary January report.

Google has presented detailed proposals to allay concerns about its business practices, the EU antitrust regulator said on Friday, in a move which brings the company a step closer to resolving a two-year investigation.

The Institute for Supply Management releases its January manufacturing index at 1500 GMT. Economists in a Reuters survey expect a reading of 50.6, versus 50.2 in December.

The Commerce Department releases December construction spending data at 1500 GMT. Economists forecast a rise of 0.6 percent, compared with a 0.3 percent drop in November.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co is seeking a buyer for some of its brands in Mexico and Brazil with any sale possibly bringing in as much as $750 million, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Kraft Foods has filed a lawsuit against casual dining chain Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc over its decision to begin selling certain Cracker Barrel branded products outside of its restaurants and stores, court documents show.

Economic Cycle Research Institute releases its weekly index of economic activity for January 25 at 1530 GMT. In the prior week, the index read 130.6.

Asia's manufacturers face a challenging business climate in the coming months, a clutch of surveys suggested on Friday, with China's vast factory sector managing only a shallow rebound at the start of 2013 as feeble foreign demand dragged on sales.

The euro rose broadly and stocks extended gains on Friday after better-than-expected euro zone manufacturing data fuelled optimism that the worst of the region's debt crisis had passed.

U.S. stocks edged lower on Thursday on caution ahead of Friday's all-important jobs report, but the S&P 500 still posted its best monthly gain since October 2011.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was down 49.84 points, or 0.36 percent, at 13,860.58. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was down 3.85 points, or 0.26 percent, at 1,498.11. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was down 0.18 points, or 0.01 percent, at 3,142.13.

(Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by John Stonestreet)

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