Stocks set for higher open

By staff

NEWYORK( -- U.S. stocks were poised for a higher start Friday, but there was plenty of uncertainty a day after one of the most violent swings in Wall Street's history.

The jobs report for April was strong, with employers adding 290,000 jobs, well ahead of forecasts, and the biggest gain since March 2006.

At 8:35 a.m. ET, Dow Jones industrial average, S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq 100 futures were higher, though they traded down slightly after the release of the jobs report.

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

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) experienced its largest-ever point decline in intraday trading, plummeting almost 1,000 points before recovering to close down 348. Erroneous trading in Procter & Gamble and several other stocks sparked the massive selloff.

Fears about the spread of the European debt crisis dragged on stocks through the early afternoon. But the selling picked up in intensity and the Dow reached its bottom at around 2:40 p.m. ET.

The selling was a result of trading glitches that caused some stocks, including Dow component Procter & Gamble (PG, Fortune 500), to plunge 37% to $39.37 per share from the close of $62.12 Wednesday. The consumer products maker recovered most of that loss by the close, ending just 2% lower. (For details,click here)

At the closing bell, the Dow was down 348 points, or 3.2%, to end at 10,520. The Dow's biggest one-day point decline on a closing basis was Sept. 29, 2008, when it fell 777.68, which had also been the previous intraday mark. The S&P 500 (SPX) index slipped 38 points, or 3.2%. The Nasdaq composite dropped (COMP) 83 points, or 3.4%.

Despite the recovery on Thursday, stock strategists were still cautious. The possibility of Greek chaos spreading across the continent "is still a big cloud hanging over Europe," said David Jones, chief market strategist at IG Markets in London.

"I think the problem with the Athens situation is that it's incredibly fluid and it seems to change day by day," he said.

Also, Britain's elections have ended in a hung Parliament, with none of the ruling parties possessing enough seats for majority rule. Jones said the elections kept him up all night, but they aren't having much impact on global markets outside of Britain.

"It's not actually of paramount importance who's running the U.K.," he said.

World markets: Stock markets around the world retreated Friday as investors were jittery about the selloff on Wall Street. European markets dropped in morning trading and Asian shares finished steeply down.

Job market: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said 290,000 jobs were added in April, though the unemployment rate rose to 9.9%, from 9.7%.

Company news: AIG (AIG, Fortune 500) reported net income attributable to the company of $1.5 billion, or $2.16 per share, during the three-month period ended March 31. A year earlier, AIG lost $4.4 billion, or $39.67 per share.

AIG's shares are up 23% this year on renewed hopes that it can pay back the billions it owes to taxpayers.The stock was up about 1% in premarket trading.

Dollar and commodities: The dollar was up more than 2% against the yen but slid against the euro by 1%. The dollar rose 1% against the pound.

"The pound is taking a pounding from this [election] indecision," said Jones.

U.S. light crude oil for June delivery rose 52 cents to trade at $77.63 a barrel after falling nearly $3 on Thursday.

COMEX gold for June delivery rose 70 cents per ounce to $1,198.

Bonds: Treasury prices are falling on Friday morning, pushing the yield on the 10-year note to 3.47% from 3.40% from Thursday. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions. To top of page

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Ford Motor Co 8.29 0.05 0.61%
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