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U.S. Stocks To Move Higher At The Opening; Media Shares In View

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks are headed for a higher opening on Wednesday, lifted by deal speculation in the media sector and favorable reaction to Time Warner Inc.'s latest earnings report.

The futures contract for the Dow Jones Industrial Average last was up 12 points at 13,190.

Futures contracts for the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq 100 were 1.30 higher at 1,494 and up 0.2 points at 1,886.

On Tuesday stocks closed higher after news of a slump in crude-oil prices and an unsolicited bid for Dow Jones & Co. by News Corp. bolstered media stocks as well. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 73 points, the S&P 500 added 4 points and the Nasdaq Composite rose 6 points.

On Wednesday earnings reports and data news will drive trade. "The market is looking like it will open higher, but not as high as it was before the ADP number came out," said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak.

"It's earnings season and people are focusing on earnings, but the figure reminded people that the labor market is softening," he said.

The monthly ADP employment report showed the weakest private-sector job growth in four years. Private-sector jobs rose by 64,000 in April.

After adding in some 24,000 government jobs created in a typical month, the ADP report suggests nonfarm payrolls grew by about 90,000 in April, a bit lower than the 100,000 currently estimated by economists.

Factory-order data for March is due at 10 a.m. Eastern. The MarketWatch forecast, based on a poll of economists, is for an increase of 2.2%, which would be up from 1% in February.

There also will be weekly crude-oil inventory figures at 10.30 a.m. Eastern.

Stocks on the move

Shares of Dow Jones & Co. Inc. last were 0.2% higher at $56.36 in premarket trade, adding a bit to its jump on Tuesday. The stock had soared 55% after the company received a takeover offer from News Corp. .

There is speculation that the bid could spark more offers from other parties. Dow Jones is the publisher of MarketWatch.

Time Warner Inc. stock last was 1.7% higher in electronic trade before the opening. The media company's quarterly net income dropped below year-earlier levels, but its earnings were above analysts' expectations.

Citigroup Inc. , a member of the Dow, announced it will buy financial services outsourcing company Bisys Group for $1.45 billion in cash. Shares of Bisys rose 4.6% to $12 before the opening.

Shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. rose 3.4% to $68.50. The restaurant chain reported a stronger-than-expected profit rise.

Gap Inc. is considering potentially sizeable layoffs to help reduce expenses and also to eliminate the bureaucracy that has stifled creativity in recent years, The New York Post reported in its Wednesday editions.

Cablevision Systems reportedly is near a deal to be bought for at least $10.5 billion by its founding family, the Dolans.

Other markets

Treasurys shook off losses to trade higher, after the ADP report suggested that the monthly employment report will show weaker-than-forecast overall jobs creation. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note last was up 3/32 at 99-31/32 with a yield of 4.629%.

The Treasury Department announced that the quarterly refunding next week will total $32 billion, including $14 billion in 3-year notes. After next week's auction, the department will suspend issuance of 3-year notes, in light of a shrinking deficit.

The dollar pared its gains after the ADP report. The dollar rose 0.2% to 119.97 yen as the euro fell 0.1% to $1.3586.

Crude-oil futures were flat as traders braced for weekly data on U.S. supplies, expected to show a second-weekly rise in crude inventories alongside draws in gasoline and distillates.

Crude for June delivery was trading down 8 cents at $64.32 a barrel in electronic trade.

Gold futures extended their prior-sesion losses, as crude-oil prices were flat and the dollar posted some gains. Gold for June delivery fell $4.80 to $672.50 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

By Leslie Wines