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Futures Gain After Solid Jobs Report

US stock index futures jumped after the government said fewer workers were laid off in February than expected.

S&P 500 futures rose 7.2 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 gained 59 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 10.25 points.

Employers cut a smaller than expected 36,000 jobs last month, leaving the unemployment rate unchanged at 9.7 percent. The government report said it was unclear how severe weather had impacted payrolls.

Also, job losses for December and January were revised to show 35,000 fewer jobs lost than previously reported.

European shares were higher in mid-morning trade, with banks leading the rise, while Asian markets closed up.

In company news, RIO Tinto and BHP Billiton could be in a strong position relative to iron ore prices as they wage a battle to switch to spot pricing, analysts told Reuters.

The two companies could hold out for an 80 percent price increase if mills don't adopt indexing for the 2010-11 shipping year. Rio Tinto shares gained 1.6 percent in premarket trading while BHP Billiton rose 0.7 percent.

In Europe, the Greek debt saga continued, with Germany's economy minister Rainer Bruederle warning that the euro zone's largest economy "does not intend to give a cent" to Greece.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is meeting German chancellor Angela Merkel Friday, after the country successfully launched a 5 billion euro ($6.8 billion) bond in the international markets Thursday.

In corporate news, Toyota detailed further plans to deal with the problems that caused its widespread recalls. The company plans to set up a special team to boost road tests and review its research and development process, according to technology chief Takeshi Uchiyamada.

AIG said in a regulatory filing that its insurance-like guarantees on over $100 billion of assets of European banks could remain on its books longer than a previously anticipated six months.