Stock index futures were little changed on Friday as investors hesitated to make bets on when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke would announce a new stimulus plan as a volatile week drew to a close.
Stocks rallied early in the week as investors wagered the Fed could announce a new program to combat softness in the economy. That contributed to a three-day rally.
For three straight days, the S&P has moved more than 1 percent. On Thursday, it fell on continued concerns about the U.S. job market and the state of the European economy.
Most analysts believe Bernanke, scheduled to speak on Friday at 10 a.m. EDT, is most likely to outline gradualist measures, which would disappoint those looking for dramatic action, such as a fresh round of asset purchases.
James Bullard, president of the St. Louis Fed, said on Thursday a bid by the Fed to lower long-term interest rates further by rebalancing its portfolio would probably not have much impact.
S&P 500 futures fell 2.2 points and were below 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 were unchanged, and Nasdaq 100 futures put on 1.5 points.
The S&P is up 3.2 percent this week, but it remains to be seen whether stocks can gather enough steam for an extended rally. Analysts view 1,120 as a key support level for the index.
The Dow is up 3.1 percent for the week, while the Nasdaq is up 3.3 percent.
On Thursday, the Dow dropped 1.51 percent to 11,149.82, while the S&P fell 1.56 percent to 1,159.27. The Nasdaq lost 1.95 percent to 2,419.63.
Market participants also looked ahead later Friday to a second reading on second-quarter gross domestic product. Economists expect the economy grew at a 1.1 percent rate in the quarter, against the previous reading of 1.3 percent growth. The data comes at 8:30 a.m. EDT.
A final reading on August consumer sentiment is also on tap and seen rising to 56 from 54.9 in the preliminary report. The report comes at 9:55 a.m. EDT.
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Overseas, European shares <.FTEU3> fell 1.2 percent on nervousness ahead of Bernanke's speech, while Japan's Nikkei average <.N225> closed up 0.3 percent on bargain hunting.
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)