- The Washington Times - Friday, March 13, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - Stock futures are extending their gains after a government report showed a better-than-expected improvement in the U.S. trade deficit.

The Commerce Department says the trade imbalance dropped to $36 billion in January, a 9.7 percent decline from December and the lowest level since October 2002. The improvement reflects a drop in demand for crude oil imports and other foreign goods.

Encouraging comments from bank executives about their companies’ performance has also been driving stocks higher in premarket trading.

Following the report, Dow Jones industrial futures are up 62 to 7,178. Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures are up 7.10 to 755.50, while Nasdaq 100 index futures are up 5.75 to 1,168.75.

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