U.S. stock index futures fell on Friday as uncertainty gripped markets following Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's refusal to step down after more than two weeks of civil protests throughout the country.
Mubarak's pledge on Thursday to delegate some of his power to the vice president seemed to briefly alleviate fears unrest could spread to neighboring countries. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes pushed ahead on the news, ending positive.
The S&P 500, which closed at 1,321.87 Thursday, has technical support at 1,313 and 1,300 -- meaning a drop to those levels could entice buyers.
An increasingly tense situation has raised fears of violence in the most populous Arab nation, a key U.S. ally in an oil-producing region.
Brent oil prices rose 0.6 percent to trade above $101 a barrel on fears oil flows could be disrupted. Partly because of the Egypt crisis, the MSCI index of Asian-Pacific stocks ex-Japan fell 4.3 percent for the week while European shares were trading lower.
Everybody's looking at Egypt, said Kim Caughey Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.
Egypt is not an oil producer, but there are other dictatorships in the area, she said. If protesters force a regime change it may give other countries ideas, and I guess that's Wall Street's biggest fear: that it spills over.
She said energy sector companies were the most likely to be volatile if violence erupts, and a spike in oil prices could also hurt consumer sector stocks.
S&P 500 futures fell 4.6 points and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures dropped 34 points and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 5.75 points.
Two S&P 500 companies are due to report earnings before the market's open: Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc
The Commerce Department is due to release international trade data for December at 8:30 a.m., which could show the extent to which a weaker U.S. dollar has helped exports. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a $40.4 billion deficit compared with a $38.31 billion deficit in November.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment data is due out at 9:55 a.m. Economists expect a reading of 75.0 compared with 74.2 in the final January report.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Kenneth Barry)