U.S. stocks were poised to open little changed on Friday as investors nervously awaited fresh data, including new home sales for July, for clues on the health of the economy.
On Thursday the head of Countrywide Financial Corp, the biggest U.S. mortgage company, said the persistent downturn in the U.S. housing market could lead to a recession.
This came as a blow to investors' confidence in a market that has struggled to set aside worries about the impact on the economy of tightening credit conditions.
Recent fears that the consumer may be in trouble are starting to filter their way back into the market, and yesterday's comments by Countrywide CEO Mozilo puts that theme in the spotlight, said Andre Bakhos, president of Princeton Financial Group in Princeton, New Jersey.
The housing numbers today will be closely watched and going forward the word recession will be the buzzword.
S&P 500 futures fell 1.30 points, roughly in line with fair value, a formula to evaluate pricing taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures slipped 4 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 4 points.
A Commerce Department report on new home sales for July is likely to show they remained in a slump at an annual rate of 820,000 homes, down from 834,000 in June, according to the median forecast in a Reuters poll of economists.
Also under the spotlight will be U.S. durable goods orders for July. Economists expect a 1.0 percent increase following a 1.3 percent rise in June.
Shares of Marvell Technology Group Ltd fell 7.5 percent to $16.50 before the bell after the chipmaker posted a quarterly net loss late on Thursday, due in part to higher spending on research and development.
Gap Inc.'s shares rose 2.6 percent in Europe after the retailer announced an additional $1.5 billion stock buyback and job cuts in the first half of the year after the close.
On Thursday, the Dow Jones industrial average inched down 0.25 of a point to end at 13,235.88, the smallest net move for a day in the Dow since December 24, 2001.
The Standard & Poor's 500 Index slipped 1.57 points, or 0.11 percent, to 1,462.50, while the Nasdaq Composite Index shed 11.10 points, or 0.43 percent, to 2,541.70.