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US STOCKS-Futures rise after China data with payrolls on tap

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

* U.S. non-farm payrolls data on tap

* China exports grow in February

* Futures up: Dow 61 pts, S&P 3.7 pts, Nasdaq 11 pts

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, March 8 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose on Friday, putting the S&P 500 on track to rise for a sixth straight session and the Dow to extend all time highs after positive export data from China and ahead of U.S. payrolls data.

* After better-than-expected U.S. data on the labor market in the form of the ADP private-sector employment report and weekly initial jobless claims earlier in the week, the government's non-farm payrolls data is due at 8:30 a.m (1330 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey are forecasting 160,000 jobs were created in February versus the 157,000 jobs in the prior month. The unemployment rate is expected to remain even with the 7.9 percent rate in January.

* China said February exports grew 21.8 percent from a year earlier, more than double the estimated rise, while imports fell 15.2 percent, deeper than an 8.8 percent drop forecast, suggesting global demand may be improving.

* The benchmark S&P index is up 1.7 percent for the week, which would mark its biggest weekly gain since the start of the year, on data showing an improving labor market picture and expectations the Federal Reserve will not end its stimulus program soon.

* The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended on Thursday at a record high for a third consecutive session and the S&P is about 2 percent away from an all-time intraday high as investors have kept any dips contained by seizing the opportunity to buy.

* But the possibility of a pullback continues to be eyed, as the last correction for the benchmark S&P index was nearly a year ago - a 9.9 percent slide from the April highs to the start of June.

* S&P 500 futures rose 3.7 points and were 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 gained 61 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 11 points.

* Later in the session, the Commerce Department will release wholesale inventories for January at 10 a.m. (1500 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey forecast inventories to rise 0.3 percent versus a drop of 0.1 percent in December.

* Pandora Media shares jumped 20.6 percent to $14.14 in light premarket trade after posting stronger-than-expected quarterly results, but the company also said CEO Joseph Kennedy is stepping down in a surprise announcement.

* Google's Motorola Mobility unit is to shed another 1,200 jobs or 10 percent of its workforce as the smartphone maker tries to return to profitability, Google said on Friday.

* European shares rose early with investors anticipating a stronger U.S. jobs figure reading, while unprecedented central bank monetary policy support kept equities around multi-year highs.

* Asian shares rose as gains in U.S. stocks on solid data and Chinese exports that beat forecasts underpinned investor risk sentiment while denting demand for safe-haven gold.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130308/us-stocks-futures-rise-after-china-data-payrolls-tap