U.S. stock index futures gain ahead of jobs data

* U.S. stock index futures pointed to gains on Friday,
rebounding from the previous session’s falls, as optimism
gathered pace that a key labour market report will confirm the
view that the economy was on a solid path to recovery.

* By 0851 GMT, futures for the S&P 500 (SPc1: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 0.3
percent; Dow Jones futures (DJc1: Quote, Profile, Research) gained 0.3 percent and Nasdaq
futures (NDc1: Quote, Profile, Research) added 0.4 percent.

* Non farm payrolls, due at 1230 GMT, is forecast to rise by
190,000 in March, with some investors expecting a gain of more
than 200,000 as the report comes in the wake of recent
employment data which suggests the outlook for the crucial
labour market was improving.

* The unemployment rate is seen unchanged at 8.9 percent.

* Shares on Wall Street ended lower on Thursday but recorded
strong gains for the first quarter, with the Dow (.DJI: Quote, Profile, Research) up 6.4
percent, the S&P’s 500 (.SPX: Quote, Profile, Research) up 5.4 percent and the Nasdaq
(.IXIC: Quote, Profile, Research) up 4.8 percent in the three months to end-March.

* Investors are betting that a strong payrolls number could
help the S&P 500 break above 1,330, a level that it has been
unable to breach despite several attempts in the past month.
<^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ For a graphic on asset performance in Q1 click on http://r.reuters.com/wur78r ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>

* Other major macroeconomic data scheduled for Friday
includes the U.S. ISM numbers, due at 1400 GMT. The release
follows that of Chinese factory data overnight which showed
production rose while cost inflation slowed, easing concerns
about monetary tightening. [ID:nL3E7F104Q]

* Hawkish comments from the Federal Reserve were on
investors’ radar screens, as the dollar was lifted after
Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Narayana Kocherlakota said
in an interview in the Wall Street Journal that the Fed could
raise rates by the end of 2011, far sooner than expected by
financial markets. [ID:nN31167243]

* In company news, the wireless megamerger of AT&T Inc (T.N: Quote, Profile, Research)
and T-Mobile will be a tough sell, said the senior Democrat at
the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in an interview with
C-SPAN provided to reporters. [ID:nN31263085]

* Boeing (BA.N: Quote, Profile, Research) received at least $5.3 billion of illegal
U.S. subsidies, the World Trade Organization said on Thursday in
a dispute that shows no signs of an end to years of inconclusive
wrangling. [ID:nLDE72U108]

* Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N: Quote, Profile, Research) borrowed five times from
the U.S. Federal Reserve’s discount window since the start of
the financial crisis, despite a senior executive’s testimony
last year that the bank had used it only once. [ID:nN31260744]

* Toyota Motor Corp’s (7203.T: Quote, Profile, Research) U.S. sales arm said it will
raise retail prices for its models sold in the U.S. market to
counter Japanese yen gains on the U.S. dollar. [ID:nN31195193]

* In Europe, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: Quote, Profile, Research)
index of top shares was up 0.6 percent at 1,131.92 points.
(Reporting by Harpreet Bhal; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

U.S. stock index futures gain ahead of jobs data