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Wall Street poised for moderately higher opening

By Stephen Bernard
AP Business Writer / February 19, 2009
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NEW YORK—Wall Street was poised for a moderately higher opening Thursday ahead of new unemployment data and a report on wholesale prices.

The Dow Jones industrial average is trying to gain momentum after hovering near its Nov. 20 low the last two days.

Investors will have plenty of data to sift through Thursday to get a better grasp on how the economy is faring. The Labor Department's report of initial jobless benefit claims is expected to fall to a seasonally adjusted level of 620,000 from 623,000 last week, according to economists polled by Thomson Reuters.

The Labor Department is also set to release monthly data on wholesale prices.

Investors will also get a forecast of economic activity. The New York-based Conference Board's January index of leading economic indicators is expected to be flat, according to economists.

Ahead of the reports, Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 73, or 0.98 percent, to 7,556. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures gained 7.80, or 1.00 percent, to 787.30, while Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 7.00, or 0.59 percent, to 1,187.00.

On Wednesday, the Dow gained just 3.03, meaning it is still hovering within four points of its Nov. 20 low when the market plunged amid the mushrooming global credit crisis. The market dropped nearly 300 points Tuesday as investors feared that despite government programs aimed at reviving the economy, a recovery would be a long, drawn out process.

Bond prices fell Thursday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 2.78 percent from 2.75 percent late Wednesday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, rose to 0.31 percent from 0.30 percent late Wednesday.

The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices fell.

Oil rose $1.24 to $35.86 per barrel in premarket electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 0.31 percent. In afternoon trading, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.55 percent, Germany's DAX index gained 0.79 percent, and France's CAC-40 declined 0.03 percent.

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On the Net:

New York Stock Exchange: http://www.nyse.com

Nasdaq Stock Market: http://www.nasdaq.com

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