Stock index futures rose on Friday as investors awaited a key report on the employment picture for clues on the health of the economy.
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.
At 8:30 a.m., investors will focus on February's non-farm payrolls data, which is expected to show a loss of 50,000 jobs in February, 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.
Given that February is a short month, you had some storms -- but that is also offset by some census hiring -- we have no clue as to how aberrational this will be, said Barry Ritholtz, director of equity research at Fusion IQ in New York.
As long as we are not seeing a backslide to 100,000-plus job losses and start seeing that on a regular basis, this is just another report in a long, slow slog of employment improvement.
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 4.8 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 35 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures advanced 5.75 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.
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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)