U.S. stock index futures edged higher on Friday, with the S&P 500 set to close a fourth week of gains in five, ahead of key jobs market data and amid lingering tensions in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin rebuffed a warning from U.S. President Barack Obama over Moscow's military intervention in Crimea, saying Russia could not ignore calls for help from Russian speakers in Ukraine.
By Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. hiring likely picked up enough in February to keep the Federal Reserve on track in reducing its monetary stimulus. But the size of the gain is nevertheless expected to be modest as the economy struggles to break free of the grip of unusually severe winter weather. Nonfarm payrolls probably increased by 149,000 last month, with the jobless rate holding at a five-year low of 6.6 percent, according to a Reuters survey of economists. Nonfarm payrolls averaged about 205,000 new jobs per month in the first 11 months of 2013, but that figure dropped to just 94,000 for December and January as the unseasonably cold and snowy winter disrupted economic activity.
By Manuela D'Alessandro MILAN (Reuters) - A Milan appeals court has acquitted four international banks, including JPMorgan and UBS, found guilty in an earlier trial of mis-selling derivatives to the city of Milan. Depfa Bank, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan and UBS had appealed against a landmark verdict from December 2012 ordering the seizure of 89 million euros ($123 million) and fines of 1 million euros for each of the banks. The original trial was the first of its kind in Italy, where hundreds of local governments entered opaque and risky derivatives deals that turned sour.
By Marc Jones LONDON (Reuters) - World shares were at a six-year high and heading for a fifth week of back-to-back gains on Friday as the ongoing tug-of-war over Crimea and uncertainty ahead of U.S. jobs data did little to sap market confidence. With the tussle between Ukraine and the West and Russia over Crimea expected to drag on, investors turned their focus to non-farm payrolls due at 1330 GMT (8:30 ET), though there were expectations they would still be distorted by the recent icy U.S. weather. The region's close links to Russia have meant it has significantly underperformed other parts of the world this week. The FTSEurofirst is heading for its first weekly drop since the end of January and some of the big German firms who sell to Russia have fared particularly badly.