* February payrolls top expectations
* FireEye shares decline after secondary offering
* Cerberus Capital to buy Safeway; Safeway shares slip
* Skullcandy jumps after results, outlook
* Futures up: Dow 82 pts, S&P 9.25 pts, Nasdaq 14.5 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, March 7 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set for a higher open on Friday after more jobs than expected were created in February, with traders keeping an eye on lingering tensions in Ukraine.
U.S. employers added 175,000 jobs to their payrolls last month, exceeding expectations for 149,000 jobs, after creating 129,000 new positions in January, Labor Department data showed. The unemployment rate, however, edged up to 6.7 percent from a five-year low of 6.6 percent.
“It was incredible, the market loves it, we were definitely braced for something lower,” said Sean McCarthy, regional chief investment officer, Wells Fargo Private Bank, based in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“When the ADP (employment data) came out and considering what we had seen in prior weeks from the Empire State survey and the Philly Fed, we were braced for something lower, so seeing 175,000 is incredible.”
S&P 500 e-mini futures rose 9.25 points and were above 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 82 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 14.5 points.
Russian President Vladimir Putin rebuffed a warning from U.S. President Barack Obama over Moscow’s military intervention in Crimea, saying Russia could not ignore calls for help from Russian speakers in Ukraine.
After initially piling into gold, crude and grains on Monday as tensions escalated over Crimea last weekend, investors have cautiously returned to stocks across the world. A gauge of global equities traded near a six-year high while the S&P 500 closed Thursday at a record.
Shares of FireEye Inc dropped 6.9 percent to $83.40 in premarket trading after the network security company priced the follow-on public offering of 14 million shares of its common stock at $82 per share.
Safeway Inc, the second-largest U.S. mainstream grocery store operator, said after the close on Thursday private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management would acquire the company in a deal valued at about $9.4 billion. Safeway shares fell 3 percent to $38.30 in premarket trading.
Skullcandy jumped 26.2 percent to $9.38 before the opening bell after the headphone maker posted fourth-quarter earnings and provided an outlook for the first-quarter and full year.