Stocks poised for quiet start

Investors look to catch their breath after recent rally on Wall Street. Light trading expected in quiet day for economic news.

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NEW YORK ( -- Investors readied for a moderately higher open on Wall Street Friday, as optimism about the economic recovery offset concerns about the recent surge in stocks.

At 7:45 a.m. ET, the S&P 500, Nasdaq-100 and Dow Jones industrial average futures were all slightly higher after pointing narrowly lower earlier in the morning.

Futures measure current index values against their perceived future performance and offer an indication of how markets may open when trading begins.

Wall Street edged lower Thursday after surging to almost one-year highs earlier in the week.

Trading could be volatile as Friday is the day of quadruple witching, when contracts expire on stock index futures, stock index options, stock options and single stock futures.

But a lack of economic reports and the start of Rosh Hashanah -- the Jewish new year -- Friday evening could lead to lighter trading toward the end of the day.

"The story today is quadruple witching, but we may not see as much volatility as usual, since most activity already took place this week," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist with Avalon Partners. "It's going to be a sideways market today with nothing really happening. The market will take a pause with averages slipping in and out of positive territory."

Economy: State employment data is due out at 10 a.m. ET. The figures come a day after the U.S. Labor Department reported an unexpected drop in the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment in the latest week.

Several encouraging reports have driven stocks back to levels not seen since the start of the credit crisis in mid-September 2008. But many market analysts believe that stocks won't be able to maintain those sharp gains for much longer.

"It's an exciting time in the market, with stocks responding well to economic news, confirming that we're in growth mode now and out of the recession," said Cardillo. "But the market will pull back, with a minor correction of 6% to 8%. We're not quite ready for it just yet, but it will happen at the end of the month or in early October."

Companies: Palm (PALM) reported a quarterly loss late Thursday but said its smartphone sales rose 134% to 823,000 units during the latest quarter on the back of the new Pre.

World markets: Asian stocks pulled back as investors paused for breath. European indexes were slightly higher after a lower start.

Other markets: The dollar rose modestly versus the euro, yen and pound. The rising greenback sent oil prices lower. U.S. light crude oil for October delivery fell 59 cents to $71.88 a barrel.

Treasury prices were mixed, with the benchmark 10-year yield rising to 3.39%. To top of page

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