U.S. stock futures pointed to a slightly higher open Friday following data showing the unemployment rate rose to a 26-year high. See full story.
Hong Kong stocks rallied after a late-session announcement from China that they would allow more foreign investment. Automakers and miners led stocks in Europe higher, with Peugeot helped by a broker upgrade as well as an electric-car partnership with Mitsubishi Motors.
Take-Two Interactive Software /zigman2/quotes/204008930/composite TTWO -0.60% was cut to neutral from buy at Hilliard Lyons, which cited recent price appreciation.
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The U.S. unemployment rate jumped to a 26-year high of 9.7% in August as nonfarm payrolls fell by 216,000, the 20th consecutive monthly decline, the Labor Department estimated Friday. U.S. payrolls have dropped by 6.9 million to 131.2 million since the recession began in December 2007, the government data showed. Unemployment has increased by 7.4 million during the recession to 14.9 million. The 216,000 decline in payrolls was close to market expectations of a 233,000 drop, but the unemployment rate rose higher than the 9.5% level expected. The unemployment rate was 9.4% in July. It was the smallest decline in payrolls since August 2008.
H&R Block /zigman2/quotes/207406664/composite HRB -7.27% said that its first-quarter net loss totaled $133.6 million, or 40 cents a share, compared to $132.7 million, or 41 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue edged up to $275.5 million, from $271.9 million last year. Improved results from business services operations and lower corporate expenses were partially offset by an expected larger loss in tax services operations, the firm said, adding that the results were in-line with expectations. The firm continues to expect its fiscal 2010 earnings from continuing operations will be in the range of $1.60 to $1.80 per share.
The Royal Bank of Scotland said it won't call $1.6 billion worth of subordinated bonds after Britain's Financial Services Authority objected. The market regulator's objection came after the European Commission warned last month against banks using state aid to buy back their own equity and subordinated debt. RBS said it wouldn't call four series of subordinated debt instruments with call-in dates in October 2009.
Moog Inc. /zigman2/quotes/210100990/composite MOG.A +1.78% said Friday that it is in talks to buy the Wolverhampton, U.K.-based flight control actuation product line from GE Aviation Systems, a unit of General Electric Co. /zigman2/quotes/208495069/composite GE -2.41% . Moog said that Wolverhampton's 2008 sales totaled about $100 million, and that it expects to sign a definitive purchase agreement very soon. The company did not disclose a specific deal price, but added that it "has sufficient cash on hand and availability under its revolving credit facility to finance the acquisition."
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