Wall St to open slightly higher after payrolls

By @ibtimes on

U.S. stocks were poised for a slightly higher open on Friday as investors struggled to interpret mixed messages on the economy from the jobs report.

Nonfarm payrolls in January grew just 36,000, the Labor Department said, far less than the 145,000 increase that economists had expected, but the jobless rate fell to 9.0 percent.

Right now, as a market participant myself, I am having trouble what to make of this data, said Dan Cook, senior market analyst at IG Markets in Chicago.

It's hard to say -- we get a pullback like we did last Friday, but there is no follow through and all of a sudden they pop back up. I still think the bias is upward.

Both the Dow and S&P 500 have remained near highs reached last Tuesday that had not been seen since June 2008.

S&P 500 futures added 2.2 points and were slightly above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures added 16 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 1.5 points.

Health insurer Aetna Inc forecast 2011 profit well above of Wall Street's target on Friday and increased its dividend. Its shares surged 13.3 percent to $37.69 in premarket trade.

Bank of America Corp added 0.3 percent to $14.47 in premarket trade dafter it agreed to sell its Balboa insurance portfolio to Australia's QBE Insurance for more than $700 million in the latest asset sale by the U.S. lender. [nL3E7D32JN]

Weyerhaeuser Co added 2.4 percent to $24.15 after the company returned to a profit in the fourth quarter, helped by a 25 percent jump in sales in its cellulose fibers business.

Tyson Foods Inc's advanced 5.1 percent to $18.46 after the company said quarterly earnings surged 86 percent as it sold beef and pork at much higher prices.

(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)

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