U.S. stock index futures were modestly higher on Friday, a day after the S&P hit a 17-month closing high and ahead of reports that could give clues into the strength of the American consumer.

Investors awaited February retail sales data as well as the Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for March. Economists in a Reuters survey expect a 0.2 percent decline in sales after a 0.5 percent rise in the prior month. The consensus for consumer sentiment is 73.6, matching the February number.

Financial stocks will be in focus after gains in the previous session as bipartisan U.S. Senate negotiations to overhaul financial regulation collapsed, jeopardizing a top Obama administration priority.

Canadian fertilizer maker Agrium Inc is abandoning its $5.4 billion bid for U.S. rival CF Industries Holdings Inc , ending a drawn-out takeover battle and bringing CF one step closer to closing a deal with Terra Industries Inc .

S&P 500 futures rose 4.9 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 jumped 24 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 0.25 points.

National Semiconductor Corp reported late Thursday that quarterly earnings rose, beating expectations, and forecast fourth-quarter revenue ahead of consensus.

Also late Thursday, Aeropostale Inc reported quarterly profit that beat estimates, and Potash Corp of Saskatchewan
raised its first-quarter outlook.

Japan's Nikkei average hit its highest close in seven weeks on Friday, as exporters got a boost from speculation that the yen may weaken if the Bank of Japan takes additional steps to ease monetary policy next week. European stocks inched higher in early trade, led by banks.

U.S. stocks gained on Thursday as rising bank shares led a late rally, eclipsing concerns China may move to cool its overheating economy.

(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)