US STOCKS-Wall St set for slightly higher open after payrolls report

Fri May 2, 2014 8:45am EDT

* U.S. payrolls surge, jobless rate hits 5-1/2 year low

* Astrazeneca rejects Pfizer's raised bid of $106 bln

* Futures: Dow 3 pts; S&P 5 pts; Nasdaq 13.25 pts (Updates with payrolls report)

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, May 2 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set for a slightly higher open on Friday following a better-than-expected payrolls report that suggested a sharp rebound in economic activity early in the second quarter.

* U.S. job growth increased at its fastest pace in more than two years in April and the unemployment rate dived to a 5-1/2 year low of 6.3 percent, the Labor Department said. The payrolls gain of 288,000 was the largest since January 2012 and beat Wall Street's expectations for an increase of just 210,000.

* The unemployment rate tumbled 0.4 percentage point, touching its lowest level since September 2008. The Labor Department attributed the decline to a drop in the number of unemployed people reentering the labor market as well as a fall in new entrants into the labor force.

* The strong numbers come after data Thursday showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, but the underlying trend continued to point to improving labor market conditions.

* S&P 500 e-mini futures added 5 points and were slightly higher than fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 3 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 13.25 points.

* U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc 's sweetened 63 billion pound ($106 billion) bid for AstraZeneca Plc was promptly rejected by the British company Friday. Pfizer shares were little changed in premarket trading.

* LinkedIn Corp shares slipped 1.5 percent in premarket trading, a day after the social networking company forecast 2014 revenue below Wall Street's expectations, underscoring concerns about its ability to sustain its rapid growth and helping to drag its shares lower.

* German drugmaker Bayer AG is nearing an agreement to buy Merck & Co Inc's consumer healthcare unit, people familiar with the matter said, in a deal that could value the business at around $14 billion. (Editing by Bernadette Baum)