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Stock futures edge higher before jobs data

NEW YORK – Stock futures edged higher as investors avoided big moves before key reports on unemployment and inflation.

Currency and gold trading was again a dominant driver of global financial markets Thursday. Traders sent the dollar lower because of expectations the Federal Reserve will start buying government bonds to try to stimulate the sluggish economy. Buying bonds would drive down interest rates from already low levels. That makes gold and other currencies where interest rates are higher more attractive than the dollar.

Gold hit another record high, while the dollar fell to a 15-year low against the yen and touched its lowest level against the euro since January.

Stock futures movement is likely to pick up after the government releases its weekly report on first-time unemployment claims and data on inflation at the wholesale level.

Traders will want to see if first-time claims for unemployment benefits continued to fall. Last week’s report showed claims were at their lowest level since mid-July, but still not low enough to signal broad hiring. High unemployment remains a key obstacle to a stronger economy and any Fed action would be partially aimed at reviving job growth.

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