Stock index futures edged higher on Friday ahead of data on consumer sentiment and after the benchmark S&P 500 index closed above 1,400 for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis.

The 1,400 level on the S&P is considered by analysts to be a resistance point that could trigger more gains if surpassed convincingly.

This week marks the quarterly expiration and settlement of March equity futures and options, an event termed quadruple witching, which could increase volume and volatility.

Investors will look to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers preliminary March consumer sentiment index release at 9:55 a.m. (1355 GMT). Economists expect a rise in the index to 76.0 from 75.3 in the final February report.

At 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT), the Labor Department will issue a report on the consumer price index. Economists expect a 0.4 percent rise, compared with a 0.2 percent increase in January. Excluding volatile food and energy items, the CPI is expected to rise 0.2 percent, a repeat of the January increase.

At 9:15 a.m. (1315 GMT) the Federal Reserve releases industrial production and capacity utilization data for February. Economists expect a 0.4 percent monthly rise in production and a capacity utilization reading of 78.8 percent. In the January report, production was flat, and capacity utilization was 78.5 percent.

The real market mover of the day in terms of economic data is going to be the mood of the consumer, said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York. As the consumers' mood continues to improve, so does the prospect of climbing equity markets.

The fact that we are seeing investors moving out of Treasuries and into the equity markets as the fear factor diminishes and economic activity improves could signal the beginning of a raging bull market.

S&P 500 futures rose 2.8 points and were roughly even with 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 gained 22 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 6.25 points.

Apple Inc advanced 0.7 percent to $589.50 in premarket trades as its new iPad proved to be another hot-seller on Friday, with hundreds lining up at stores across Asia to be the first to get their hands on the tablet computer.

Several banks, including Goldman Sachs Group, have shown an interest in buying American International Group Inc's complex and troubled assets tied to the insurer's bailout, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

European equities climbed to levels not seen since the summer on Friday, with charts pointing to more near-term gains as long as economic data and earnings remain supportive. <.EU>

Asian shares steadied, while the dollar took a breather after its recent broad rally spurred profit-taking, with some investors wondering if a fresh batch of encouraging economic data would push up U.S. yields.

(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)