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Futures Up Slightly Despite Rising Oil Prices

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a slightly higher open for Wall Street Monday, despite surging crude oil pricesand a volatile-early morning trading session in Europe.

Stocks took cues from the oil market much of last week, ending slightly higher for the week.

Oil prices will likely set the tone again on Monday, as prices rose to new 2-½-year highson concerns that civil war was brewing in Libya. Continued unrest in Bahrain intensified concerns about supply disruption, while investors also kept a close eye on top exporter Saudi Arabia, where clerics forbade protests during the weekend.

London Brent crude soared above $117 a barrel, and U.S. light, sweet crude rose above $106. Gold, meanwhile, rose to more than $1,440 an ounceon Middle East concerns.

On Friday, the February jobs report, which showed total nonfarm payrolls rising by 192,000, in line with expectations, failed to lift the market as oil prices soared. The unemployment rate fell to a 8.9 percent, slightly better than expected.

Just as the economy is showing signs of job growth, the jump in oil prices has cast worry across markets that the economic recovery could be threatened if energy prices rise too much and for too long.

In company news, hard drive-maker Western Digital plans to buy Hitachi Global Storage Technologies in a $4.3 billion cash and stock transaction.

AT&T traded flat after the company said Friday evening Chief Financial Officer Rick Lindner will retire June 1, and will be replaced by Controller John Stephens, the company said on Friday.

Starbucks gained after Morgan Stanley upgraded the coffee retailer to "overweight" from "equal weight," citing growth in domestic and international units, and the company's plans to enter the $3 billion single-serve coffee market and bring its packaged coffee business in-house.

Consumer credit will be the only piece of macroeconomic data out Monday, at 3 p.m.

Markets could also react to comments made by several Federal Reserve speakers Monday.

CNBC talks to Chicago Fed President Charles Evans at 10 a.m., and Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart and Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher speak Monday morning.


Later this week, investors will turn their attention to trade data, weekly jobless claims, retail sales and consumer sentiment as well as the Bank of England’s monthly policy decision.

The euro rose to a four-month high above $1.40 Monday morning, reversing earlier losses for the single currency after Moody’s rating agency downgraded Greece’s sovereign debt rating by three notches.

On the Calendar:

MONDAY: Atlanta Fed President speaks, consumer credit; earnings after-the-bell from Urban Outfitters.
TUESDAY: McDonald's February sales data, 3-year Treasury note auction, BofA investor conference, Nvidia analyst meeting.
WEDNESDAY: Mortgage applications, wholesale trade, oil inventories, 10-year Treasury note auction, BofA/ML consumer conf., Citi 2011 financial services conference, anniversary of S&P 500 closing low (2009); earnings before-the-bell from American Eagle Outfitters and after-the-bell from H&R Block.
THURSDAY: BoE announcement, international trade, jobless claims, quarterly services survey, 30-year Treasury bond auction, Treasury budget, money supply, Nasdaq peak anniversary; Earnings before-the-bell from Smithfield Foods and after-the-bell from National Semiconductor.
FRIDAY: Retail sales, consumer sentiment, business inventories, S&P index rebalancing info due, Apple's iPad 2 ships; earnings before-the-bell from Ann Taylor.

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