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U.S. Stock-Index Futures Gain After Jobs Growth Tops Forecasts

Dec. 7 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stock-index futures extended gains after government data showed employers added more jobs than forecast last night, bolstering optimism in the economy.

Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures expiring this month added 0.5 percent to 1,419.7 at 8:32 a.m. in New York after earlier losing as much as 0.3 percent. The equity benchmark is heading for a 0.2 percent loss this week as lawmakers debate ways to avoid more than $600 billion of automatic spending cuts and tax increases scheduled to kick in next year.

Employment climbed by 146,000 following a revised 138,000 gain in October that was less than initially estimated, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median estimate of 91 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a gain of 85,000. Superstorm Sandy “did not substantively impact” the data, the agency said. The unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, the lowest since December 2008, as size of the labor force shrank.

Concern and speculation about the so-called fiscal cliff has whipsawed stocks since President Barack Obama’s reelection set up a showdown with House Republicans over the budget. The S&P 500 slumped as much as 5.3 percent from Nov. 6 to Nov. 15 and has since trimmed the decline since Election Day to about 1 percent.

A 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck off northeastern Japan, the most powerful since last year’s record tremor, causing buildings in Tokyo to sway and disrupting rail and airline traffic.

In the euro area, Greece is offering to purchase about 29 billion euros ($37.6 billion) of bonds maturing from 2023 to 2042 at an average of about 33.1 percent of face value, using a 10 billion-euro loan from the region’s bailout fund.

If it fails to reach the target when the tender closes at 5 p.m. London time today, the country would have to consider a writedown of the loans it has received from other euro-area member states and the International Monetary Fund. Germany has already rejected writing down this debt.

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