Stock index futures edged higher on Friday as unrest in Egypt kept investors cautious ahead of the key payrolls report.
U.S. employment probably posted a fourth straight month of gains in January offering more evidence of a broadening economic recovery, though the jobless rate likely rose. The employment report is due at 8:30 a.m. EST.
The government is expected to report that nonfarm payrolls grew by 145,000, according to a Reuters survey of economists, after adding 103,000 in December. The unemployment rate was seen ticking up 0.1 percent to 9.5 percent.
If it remains weak, the market perceives that Bernanke will continue to flood the market with liquidity, and a good economic number is good because that means the economy will be strengthening, said Paul Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist at Windham Financial Services in Charlotte, Vermont.
But we are right at this high, so we are right at this resistance point ... whenever you are at a resistance point, you've got some degree of risk.
Both the Dow and S&P 500 have remained near highs reached last Tuesday that had not been seen since June 2008.
Protests continued in Egypt continued as tens of thousands of Egyptians prayed in Cairo's Liberation Square for an immediate end to President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.
S&P 500 futures added 1.6 point and were slightly above 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 added 12 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 1.25 points.
Health insurer Aetna Inc
Bank of America Corp
European shares rose slightly in early trade, led by banks, after a late rally on Wall Street, spurred by optimism about the recovery and hopes that U.S. monetary policy will continue to support equities. <.EU>
Japan's Nikkei <.N225> gained 1.1 percent, lifted by steelmakers that surged on news of a megamerger in the sector.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)