Stock futures rise on Merkel talk; jobs data eyed

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NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks appear headed for gains after overseas markets welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s call for stronger rules to enforce fiscal discipline in the European Union.

Less than two hours before the start of trading, Dow Jones industrial futures are up 1.2 percent to 12,142, and S&P 500 futures up 1.3 percent to 1,260.

Whether that optimism is still present at the opening could depend on the strength of U.S. jobs data, set for release at 8:30 a.m. EST. Economists expect an increase of about 125,000 jobs. The unemployment rate is forecast to remain at 9 percent.

In a closely scrutinized speech to Germany’s parliament, Merkel said the 17 nations that use the euro currency must move quickly to restore market confidence, making financial controls stricter and more binding.

Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy are meeting Monday to discuss treaty changes that can restore confidence in the euro’s future. The talks will culminate in a Dec. 9 summit of EU leaders, where the proposals are expected to be debated and detailed.

Investors are hoping if eurozone governments agree to longer-term changes in the way they control their finances, the European Central Bank will agree to step up its interventions in the bond markets. Those interventions keep borrowing rates down for debt-troubled nations like Italy.

Whether the ECB will agree to step up its bond purchases is not clear, although its President Mario Draghi hinted Thursday that it was a possibility.

“Expectations have been growing that a ‘Grand Plan’ will be delivered next week,” said Frederik Ducrozet, analyst at Credit Agricole CIB.

European stocks rose, as did bonds for Italy and Spain. Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 1.5 percent to 5,572.03 while Germany’s DAX added 1.78 percent to 6,140.5. France’s CAC-40 climbed 1.9 percent to 3,187.87.

Italy’s 10-year bond yield continued to drop, to 6.48 percent, almost a full percentage lower than Wednesday, an indication investors have high hopes of next week’s talks to save the euro. Spain’s 10-year yield was down to 5.50 percent.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose 0.5 percent to end at 8,643.75, its highest closing in three weeks. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.2 percent to 19,040.39. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 1.4 percent to 4,288.

Benchmark oil for January delivery was up 56 cents to $100.76 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Friday. The contract lost 16 cents to end at $100.20 per barrel on the Nymex on Thursday.

In currency trading, the euro rose to $1.3519 from $1.3460 late Thursday in New York. The dollar rose to 77.89 yen from 77.76 yen.