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Futures Slip After Jobs Report; RIM Soars

Stock futures turned lower after initial enthusiasm waned after a report showed continued steep job losses in the US economy.

The economy shed 663,000 jobs in March and the unemployment rate climbed to 8.5 percent, according to government data. The job-loss number was slightly worse than expectations though the total rate was in line. Traders appeared to focus on revisions to the numbers that showed January job losses of 741,000, the worst in nearly 60 years.

Dow futures indicated a slightly lower open on Wall Street following a powerful two-day rally that gave the industrial index its best four-week gain in more than 75 years.

Thursday's move higher came on the heels of changes to controversial mark-to-market accounting rules and enthusiasm out of the G20 global summit in which world leaders pledged economic cooperation.

Technology shares were set to lead the market, and a sharp diversion is possible today with the Nasdaq compared to the Dow and S&P 500.

Research in Motion continued to gain after the BlackBerry manufacturer beat analyst expectations for quarterly earnings and raised its guidance for the year. Shares soared 23 percent premarket.

The aggressive government interventions in the credit markets continued to dominate news.

In corporate news, bailed-out banks including Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase are mulling buying toxic assets through the Treasury’s $1 trillion financial recovery scheme, according to a report in the Financial Times.

Meanwhile, the Senate has called for a full list of institutions that tapped the government for emergency loans during the crisis and called for a study to determine the "appropriate" number of regional fed banks.

Google shares gained 1.5 percent in premarket trading as the search engine giant is reportedly in talks to buy the trendy blogging site Twitter. Sources told the TechCrunch blog that the price could be $250 million.

Meanwhile, International Business Machines is finishing up its $3 billion purchase of Sun Microsystems. Sun shares gained 3.3 percent premarket while IBM edged higher as well.

But Walt Disney faced troubled after a downgrade from JPMorgan sent shares 2.3 percent lower premarket.

Elsewhere in government, Congress has approved President Obama's $3.6 trillion budget that includes massive spending increases in health care, education and energy.

In other news, the financial crisis appears to have taken a chunk out of CEOs’ wallets, according to the Wall Street Journal. The salaries and bonuses for chief executives of 200 big US companies fell 8.5 percent in 2008, the paper said citing an analysis prepared for it by a management consulting firm.

Federal Reserve Vice-Chairman Donald Kohn will speak on policies to help stem the crisis at Wooster, Ohio. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will speak at midday about the Fed’s balance sheet Charlotte, North Carolina.

On the economic front, the ISM services index for March is released at 10 am.