Stocks headed for weak open

By CNNMoney.com staff


NEW YORK(CNNMoney.com) -- U.S. stocks futures initially rose Wednesday but they lost much of their momentum after a worse-than-expected payrolls report.

Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) and S&P 500 (SPX) futures were higher ahead of the opening bell. Nasdaq (COMP) futures were slightly lower. Futures measure current index values against perceived future performance.

All three major gauges finished at five-month highs Tuesday, after a surprise move by Japan's central bank to cut interest rates sparked a broad-based rally.

Even against a backdrop of lackluster economic reports, investors are feeling more optimistic as the Fed sends signals it's about to push billions more into the economy, said Chip Brian, founder or SmarTrend.

"It's a 'let the Fed save the day' attitude of stock buyers," he said.

But investors reacting to a disappointing ADP report on the September payrolls like a punch in the gut, losing half their pre-market gains. The slew of jobs data culminates with the government's highly anticipated unemployment report on Friday.

Forecasts predict the unemployment rate will have ticked up to 9.7% in September from 9.6% the month before, confirming that job growth has been painfully slow.

Economy: Payroll processing firm ADP reported the private sector jobs plunged in September, trouncing the forecast of an increase.

The U.S. economy lost 39,000 private sector jobs last month, said the ADP on Wednesday, which was much worse than expected. Economists were forecasting the report to show private sector employers added 18,000 jobs in September.

The number of job cuts planned by employers edged up slightly in September, but remained near a rock bottom 10-year low that was reported in August, according to a report from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Employers said they would cut 37,151 jobs in September, up 7% from the 34,768 jobs cuts reported in August.

As traders look ahead to the government's jobs report due on Friday, they will use the ADP and Challenger reports as a gauge of the national unemployment picture.

Companies: Johnson & Johnson (JNJ, Fortune 500) announced a deal to aquire Dutch biotechnology company Crucell (CRXL) for about $2.43 billion. J&J already owns 17.9% of Crucell's outstanding shares and last year, the two companies started working together on a flu vaccine. The stock for J&J and Crucell stock edged up in pre-market trading.

Costco (COST, Fortune 500) said its fourth-quarter income rose 16% to $432 million, or 97 cents per share -- beating analysts' estimates of 95 cents per share. The wholesaler's earnings got a boost from increased membership sales and strength overseas. Shares slid more than 2% in premarket trading after earlier being up about 2.5%.

World markets: European shares rallied in morning trading. Britain's FTSE 100, France's CAC 40 and the DAX in Germany all were about 1% higher.

Asian shares finished sharply higher. Japan's Nikkei index leapt 1.8% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong jumped nearly 1.1%. The Shanghai Composite is closed for a week-long holiday.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar slipped against the euro, the British pound and the Japanese yen.

Gold futures for December delivery rose $5.20 to $1,345.50 an ounce, after reaching a fresh intraday record trading high of $1,351 an ounce earlier.

The price of crude oil for November delivery fell 29 cents to $82.53 a barrel.

Bonds: Prices for U.S. Treasurys rose, pushing the yield on the 10-year note down to 2.41% from 2.48% late Tuesday. Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions. To top of page

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