S&P 500 and Dow stock index futures pointed to a higher open as Citigroup and General Electric posted better-than-expected quarterly results, providing further evidence that the severe U.S. economic downturn could be abating.

General Electric Co reported a 36 percent drop in quarterly profit, as a global recession pounded its hefty finance arm, but the company said the order backlog at its industrial arm remained stable.

Citigroup Inc said on Friday that cost-cutting efforts and improved investment banking and trading results led to a substantially smaller first-quarter loss for shareholders, despite a big increase in credit costs from consumer banking and credit cards.

I think we're seeing a bottoming of the trends. I feel that the numbers are showing stabilization in the global economy, said Jim Hardesty, president, market strategist & chief economist at Hardesty Capital Management in Baltimore.

Citi's shares rose 9.7 percent to $4.40, while GE rose 3.10 percent to $12.62 in premarket trade.

The health of the financial sector has been a key concern for investors. The present rally from early March began when several banks said they were profitable in January and February.

S&P 500 futures rose 2.6 points and were 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 rose 24 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 2.75 points.

The S&P 500 has risen for two straight days and is up around 1 percent for the week, setting the broad based index on course for six consecutive weeks of gains.

State Street, which tracks buying and selling within the $12 trillion in assets it holds as custodian, said flows into U.S. equities were close to the highest they have been in 12 years.

We've had a great rally, said Paul Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist at Windham Financial Services in Charlotte, Vermont. I would expect it to slow down a little bit from here.

In other news a bankrupt General Motors Corp could be reorganized in as little as a month, a top bankruptcy attorney said on Thursday, and if the case lingered then a tremendous sinkhole could open in the U.S. economy, a Delaware bankruptcy judge said.

General Motors CEO Fritz Henderson will update the media on the company's restructuring progress in a call to beginning at about 10:15 a.m. on Friday. The stock rose 5.2 percent to $2.04 before the bell.

On the economic front the Reuters/University of Michigan April survey of consumer sentiment, due at 9.55 a.m., is expected to have risen for a second consecutive month to 58.5 from March's 57.3.

(Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica)

(Reporting by Edward Krudy; Editing by Theodore d'Afflisio)