Stock index futures rose on Friday as investors appeared ready to welcome any sign of fewer job losses in impending payroll data as improvement in the economy and dismiss any weakness as temporary.
February's non-farm employment numbers, released at 8:30 a.m., are expected to show a loss of 50,000 jobs, compared to 20,000 job cuts in January, according to a Reuters survey. Economists expect the unemployment rate to rise to 9.8 percent in February from 9.7 percent in January.
Analysts said a fall in the payrolls numbers was likely in February as severe weather that affected large swaths of the country kept some workers at home, but a swift recovery was expected in March.
Debt problems in Greece, which had weighed on markets, appeared to ease after a successful bond sale by the euro zone country. Indications that China, the world's third-largest economy, will keep its loose monetary policy in place also added support to stocks.
The bulls have a free pass today on the number -- if the number is really bad, well, it's the weather, and if it's good, then you had an improvement in the labor market, said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak & Co in New York.
Plus you had no surprises came out of the state of the country speech from the Prime Minister in China and a continuation of the feel-good response to the steps that Greece is taking helping European markets.
White House economic adviser Larry Summers said earlier in the week the winter blizzards were likely to distort the jobless figures.
China's Premier Wen Jiabao, in his annual address to the National People's Congress, said China will continue an appropriately easy monetary stance and an active fiscal policy.
S&P 500 futures rose 5.3 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 added 29 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures advanced 7.25 points.
European equities rose near midday for the sixth straight session, led by banking stocks and mining shares after metal prices advanced. Stocks also gained on encouraging signs that Greece's finances were stabilizing.
Marvell Technology Group Ltd
Asian shares surged on Friday after solid U.S. retail sales and jobs data suggested Asia's biggest export market was stabilizing.
U.S. stocks rose on Thursday as better-than-expected monthly sales results from retailers and a drop in the number of Americans filing claims for initial jobless benefits pointed to stabilization in the economy.
(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)