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Wall Street jittery as attention turns to job market

U.S. stock index futures signaled a softer open on Friday, as all eyes turn to the latest labor market report -- a key indicator of the health of the U.S. economy.

The Labor Department is expected to report the creation of 230,000 nonfarm payrolls in January, with the unemployment rate holding steady at 5.6 percent and wage growth of 0.3 percent. Last month, a 0.20 percent decline, or a 5-cent drop, in hourly earnings jarred markets.

Traders work the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
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Traders work the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

The total nonfarm payroll accounts for about 80 percent of the workers who produce the entire gross domestic product of the United States. The data is due at 08:30 a.m. ET. Consumer credit figures for December are also due for release at 15:00 p.m. ET.

Friday brings a much quieter day for earnings, with Moody's, CBOE Holdings and Madison Square Garden due before market open, and energy company Dominion due after the bell.

In Europe, equities traded lower after Greece's talks with Germany – the euro zone's largest economy – over the future of its bailout program had mixed success.

On Thursday, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis met his German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble in Berlin after a week of touring European capitals in an effort to drum up support for Greece's new proposals over its debt and bailout program.

Following the talks, Schaeuble said the ministers had "agreed to disagree."

The Greek government is under pressure to find a solution to its funding situation as international lenders are unwilling to release its latest tranche of aid until it makes a commitment to continue with the conditions of its bailout.

In oil markets, crude oil prices rallied on Friday, continuing a rebound from near-six-year lows seen last week, with Brent crude futures $1.90 higher at $58.50 a barrel, and U.S. crude for March delivery up $1.70 at $52.14 a barrel at around 05:30 am ET.

Evelyn Cheng contributed to this report.