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Futures Tumble on Unemployment Report

Stock index futures plunged as September nonfarm payroll declines were far worse than Wall Street estimates.

The Labor Department said the economy shed 263,000 jobs in the month and the unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent, a number the market had expected. But Wall Street was looking for only 200,000 jobs lost.

Investors hoping for signs of recovery rather than more deterioration in the economy are expected to start selling at the open, picking up where they left off on Thursday, when the Dow Jones industrials lost more than 200 points.

A spate of bad economic news leading up to Friday's disappointing jobs data has investors rethinking the rally that began in March on the first signs of a turnaround

Futures indicated a loss of more than 1 percent across the board.

In corporate news, Wal-Mart Chairman Rob Walton warned that the retailer would ride out what is expected to be a slow US recovery, while its Asian operations should do better. Wal-Mart shares edged lower premarket.

Speculation continued to swirl over the fate of CNBC.com parent General Electric.

GE CEO Jeff Immelt told reporters the company is in ongoing talks for either a partnership or initial public offering for the NBC Universal unit. CNBC reported Thursday that one plan under consideration would see cable giant Comcast take a 51 percent stake in the company.

GE shares were off nearly 1 percent premarket. Comcast fell more than 7 percent Thursday.

Among other possible stocks to watch today:

  • First Solar, which will replace Wyeth in the S&P 500 at an undetermined date. Wyeth is being bought by Pfizer .
  • CIT Group, shrinking market cap and all, will also be a stock to watch as it launches a debt exchange plan in hopes of avoiding a bankruptcy filing. CIT gained 12.3 percent premarket.

Crude oil futures , which have consistently tracked stock market movement, also tumbled after the US jobs report.

World markets fell in anticipation of the weak jobs report, with France's CAC-40 suffering the worst loss at 1.1 percent.

Though it will get very little attention compared to the employment report, the government is also out with August factory orders at 10 am New York time, with economists looking for a rise of 0.5 percent following an increase of 1.3 percent in July.

The International Olympic Committee will announce the host city for the 2016 Olympics at 1pm ET, with President Obama in Copenhagen to make his pitch for Chicago's bid.

Peter Schacknow, Senior Producer, CNBC Breaking News Desk