Wall Street futures gain ahead of U.S. payrolls

* U.S. stock index futures pointed to a slightly higher open
for Wall Street on Friday, adding to hefty gains on Thursday,
with futures for the S&P 500 (SPc1: Quote, Profile, Research), Dow Jones futures (DJc1: Quote, Profile, Research)
and Nasdaq futures (NDc1: Quote, Profile, Research) all up around 0.2 percent by 0920 GMT.

* Recent upbeat economic data, including encouraging weekly
jobless claims and robust private-sector hiring, reinforced
confidence of a strong reading for closely watched U.S. non-farm
payrolls data, due at 1330 GMT.

* The report was forecast to show a rise of 185,000 jobs in
February, a nine-month high, with some investors expecting a
reading above 200,000 on growing optimism over the pace of
recovery in the labour market.

* The unemployment rate, however, was seen ticking up to 9.1
percent as previously discouraged jobseekers return to the
labour force. [ID:nN03204001]

* Wall Street posted its biggest one-day gain in three
months on Thursday, but weak volumes cast doubts over the
sustainability of the rally.

* The put-to-call ratio in the options market also did not
change much as traders continued to hedge against a potential
drop in the market.

* Investors will continue to watch developments in Libya,
after Brent crude futures (LCOc1: Quote, Profile, Research) rose $1 a barrel to almost
$116 on doubts a Venezuelan peace proposal would resolve Libya’s
crisis and as reports surfaced of fresh air strikes in the North
African country. [ID:nLDE72200E]

* In company news, sources said European planemaker EADS
(EAD.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) was set to concede defeat in a decade-long battle with
U.S. rival Boeing (BA.N: Quote, Profile, Research) by deciding not to appeal a $30 billion
U.S. tanker contract, in a move that should avert transatlantic
tension that flared up after the pentagon revoked an earlier
contract with EADS in 2009. [ID:nN0395930]

* Chrysler is in advanced talks with banks on refinancing
about $7 billion in government debt and establishing a credit
facility to help clear the way for an initial public offering
this year. [ID:nN03302416]

* NYSE Euronext’s (NYX.N: Quote, Profile, Research) derivatives trading volumes
increased 8 percent on the year in February, the exchange group
said, with an average of nearly 9 million contracts changing
hands globally each day. [ID:nLDE7230DR]

* U.S equipment maker Caterpillar (CAT.N: Quote, Profile, Research) plans to build a
new manufacturing plant in Indonesia worth from $500 million to
$1 billion of investment, Indonesia’s investment chief said on
Friday. [ID:nJKF002533]

* In Europe, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: Quote, Profile, Research)
index of top shares was up 0.7 percent in early trade, with
automakers among the top gainers on hopes of improving demand.
(Reporting by Harpreet Bhal; Editing by Dan Lalor)