U.S. stock index futures signal higher open

LONDON, March 8 Fri Mar 8, 2013 4:54am EST

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LONDON, March 8 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street on Friday, with traders citing expectations of a further pick-up in U.S. employment data that may buoy equity markets.

The futures for the S&P 500 rose 0.3 percent, while the Dow Jones futures advanced 0.4 percent and the Nasdaq 100 futures gained 0.3 percent.

The publication of U.S. non-farm payrolls employment data at 1330 GMT will be a key event for many investors on Friday.

Employers are expected to have added 160,000 jobs to their payrolls last month, picking up slightly from January's 157,000 count, according to a Reuters survey of economists.

European shares rose early on Friday with investors anticipating a stronger U.S. jobs reading, while unprecedented central bank monetary policy support kept equities around multi-year highs.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.4 percent, while MSCI's world shares index hit its highest level since June 2008.

Google's Motorola Mobility unit is to shed another 1,200 jobs or 10 percent of its workforce as the smartphone maker tries to return to profitability, Google said on Friday.

Facebook Inc introduced the biggest change in years to its popular newsfeed on Thursday, with a new look and focus on photos that is expected to make the social network more ad-friendly and may entice users to spend more time on the website.

ConocoPhillips plans to drill up to two exploration wells in remote Arctic waters next year and is undeterred by numerous setbacks suffered there by rival Royal Dutch Shell Plc , a Conoco official said Thursday.

JPMorgan Chase & Co is pulling out of the panel that sets Australia's benchmark interbank lending rates, joining UBS in an exodus from regional rate setting panels in the wake of the Libor rate rigging scandal.

Fidelity Investments, the largest U.S. provider of workplace retirement plans, is facing more accusations it improperly uses customer money earned in overnight accounts to pay its own operating expenses.

Continental Grain Co, one of the biggest shareholders of Smithfield Foods Inc, has sent a letter to the board urging it to consider splitting the leading U.S. hog producer into three units.

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