Wall Street looks for early pop

Investors digest opposing readings on the job front and await key economic reports on manufacturing, home sales and employment.

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By CNNMoney.com staff

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How will the economy fare in the second half of 2009?
  • It will get worse
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  • It will stay about the same

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- U.S. stocks were poised to open higher on Wednesday - the first day of the third quarter - as investors digested opposing employment reports and awaited data on manufacturing and home sales.

At 8:25 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones industrial average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 futures were holding gains.

Futures measure current index values against the perceived future performance.

On Tuesday, stocks fell on a weaker-than-expected consumer confidence report and a slump in oil prices.

Nevertheless, it was the end of a positive quarter for the markets. The S&P 500 (SPX) gained 15%, marking its best quarter since the final three months of 1998.

All financial markets are closed Friday for the Independence Day weekend.

Peter Cardillo, chief market analyst for Avalon Partners, said that U.S. futures were following the lead of market gains in China, which were fueled by positive manufacturing data, as well as advances in Europe.

He said that trading in the United States will be heavily influenced by a swath of economic reports in the morning.

"We're taking our cue off Europe in anticipation of the economic data," said Cardillo.

Employment reports: Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. said the number of job cuts announced in June fell for the fifth straight month, to 74,393. That's down 33% from May and 9% from the same time a year ago.

But a report from payroll firm ADP, released at 8:15 a.m. ET, said private-sector jobs decreased by 473,000 in June - worse than the 394,000 cuts expected.

Economic reports on tap: Pending home sales, due out at 10 a.m. ET from the National Association of Realtors, is forecast to be unchanged in May after rising 6.7% in April.

Also at 10 a.m. ET, the Institute for Supply Management's June manufacturing index is expected to have risen to 44.6 from 42.8 in May, according to forecasts.

May construction spending, released by the Commerce Department at 10 a.m. ET, is expected to have fallen 0.6% after posting a surprise rise of 0.8% in April.

The weekly crude oil inventories report from the Energy Information Administration is scheduled to be released midway through the morning. June auto and truck sales are due throughout the day.

General Motors: Bankruptcy court hearings continue for a second day for the Chapter 11 filing of automaker GM (GMGMQ). Judge Robert Gerber may rule on whether to approve the bankruptcy, which would allow GM to leave behind certain assets and liabilities to form a new company.

General Mills: Food producer General Mills (GIS, Fortune 500) said strong cereal sales help drive quarterly net profit to $1.07 per share, double the profit for the year-ago period.

World markets: Asian markets slipped Wednesday, with Tokyo's Nikkei index down 0.2% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index down 0.8%. European markets rose more than 1% in midday trading.

Oil and money: In electronic trading, the price of oil jumped $1.42 to $71.31 a barrel. The dollar was higher against the yen, but lower versus the euro and British pound.  To top of page

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