Stock futures mixed ahead of jobs report

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U.S. stock futures were mixed Friday morning ahead of the government's jobs report due out at 8:30 a.m. Eastern, an hour before the opening bell. Depending on the outcome of the jobs report, stocks could extend the rally to a fourth day or give back gains. Meanwhile, mood in the tech sector improved after Research In Motion (RIMM) reported strong sales and outlook and saw its shares rally over 20 percent.

While there have been some encouraging recent signs, employers are still laying off workers at a faster pace. The Labor Department is expected to report that a net total of 654,000 jobs were lost last month, the worst in 60 years, and marking a record four straight months that job losses topped 600,000. The unemployment rate is expected to jump to 8.5 percent, from 8.1 percent in February, the highest jobless rate since late 1983.

Overseas, world stock markets lost steam on Friday. On Thursday, markets around the world, including the U.S., rallied as world leaders pledged to help world economies with more than $1 trillion in new funds. But gains were somewhat subdued as investors became cautious before a key U.S. employment report.

Still, oil prices rose above $53 a barrel Friday, extending a rally fueled by market optimism that crude demand may rebound if the U.S. economic downturn bottoms out soon.

Also of note, the March Institute for Supply Management services report comes at 10 a.m. Eastern. At 12:30 p.m., Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks about the Fed's balance sheet at the annual Credit Market Symposium of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

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