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Stock futures point to higher opening

NEW YORK — Stock futures are pointing to a higher opening today after members of the Group of 20 nations pledged to cut budget deficits.

The modest gains come ahead of a big week of domestic economic data as well, culminating with the key monthly jobs report due out Friday. Investors will want to see private sector job growth because any signs of hiring would likely add confidence that the economy is improving. Economic reports in recent months have painted a mixed picture about the pace of a recovery.

That has led some leaders to push for new stimulus measures to bolster growth, though a jump in government spending would make it difficult to control deficits.

The debate between spending to stimulate slowly growing economies and opting for fiscal austerity to quickly get ballooning deficits under control continued at the G20 meetings over the weekend. The G20, a group of rich and developing nations, agreed over the weekend that industrialized nations would slash deficits in half by 2013. But they could not resolve differences between stimulus spending and cost cutting measures.

World leaders did, however, say they would not pull back government support too quickly if they feared it would stagnate the nascent global rebound.

Some European nations have been pushing for steep spending cuts to avoid problems such as those encountered by Greece in recent months. Greece needed a European Union-led bailout to avoid bankruptcy. Questions about the pace of growth in Europe have dragged down stocks in recent months and hurt the euro, the currency used by 16 European countries.

Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 17, or 0.2 percent, to 10,121. Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures rose 2.60, or 0.2 percent, to 1,077.30, while Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 5.25, or 0.3 percent, to 1,844.50.

Even as stock futures were set for gains, investors still showed some indecisiveness, sending bond prices higher. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 3.09 percent from 3.11 percent late Friday.

Treasurys often rise when investors are uncertain about the strength of the economy because they are stable investments that produce modest gains.

The euro fell to $1.2350.

Oil dropped 70 cents to $78.16 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. A tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico is projected to avoid hitting the area affected by the oil spill.

Overseas, Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.5 percent, Germany’s DAX index gained 1 percent, and France’s CAC-40 rose 0.9 percent. Japan’s Nikkei stock average fell 0.5 percent.


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